Church and Earth
The Diocese of London is committed to supporting the Church of England’s long term plan ‘Church and Earth’.
Church and Earth 2009 – 2016 was the Church of England’s Seven-Year Plan on climate change and the environment, commissioned by the Bishop of London as Chair of the national Shrinking the Footprint campaign.
It formed part of the project of Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) for ‘Seven-Year Plans for Generational Change’ by the world’s major faiths, presented to the Secretary General of the United Nations at the major international celebration at Windsor in November 2009, ahead of the UN Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at Copenhagen in December 2009.
At the foot of this page you can download a full copy of Church and Earth.
The basis and need for action
Church and Earth reviewed the Church of England’s action up to 2009 on environmental care, including in London and other dioceses.
It summarised the basis in theology and ethics, and the need for action on environmental challenges, especially climate change, and the need to move towards sustainability more generally.
It presented challenges for future action, under the following themes:
- Buildings and assets
- Governance and partnerships
- Education and young people
- Pastoral and community work
- Media and advocacy
Church and Earth concluded:
- The environmental challenges facing humanity in the 21st century are immense; the most urgent and pressing is climate change. People and societies have woken up late to the enormity, urgency and severity of this threat.
Commentators and campaigners are eloquent and consistent in drawing attention to what the human species is doing to cause the problem, and the disasters which will befall us unless we desist. Yet in spite of mounting scientific evidence for global warming and its existing and future impacts, concerted and substantial action nationally and internationally remains elusive.
- Climate change is one of a matrix of trends in our environment, each with the capacity to devastate economies, societies and ecologies. All must be tackled together, with speed, determination and perseverance.
Moreover this whole array of stresses is inextricably linked to the seemingly unstoppable momentum of unsustainable development, largely driven by overconsumption by the rich world.
- Christian churches, including the Church of England, are not exempt from blame for what adds up to a human-induced crisis of colossal proportions. In our traditions and practice there has often been a neglect of reverent care for God’s created and evolved world.
Still there have been shining exceptions down the ages to inspire us; in recent years, progress has been made in influencing mind-sets towards the necessary action – though the latter has been slow to follow the former.
- The nature and scale of the challenges ahead demand renewed respect and reverence for the natural world, united to practical, determined and unwavering action over the coming years – and generations.
The Church has now set out a range of specific commitments and challenges for an ambitious programme of action to reduce direct impacts, especially the Church’s own energy use and carbon emissions; this programme will include, in the vanguard, action for global justice and solidarity with the poor and most vulnerable.
- We believe the Church and its partners and allies worldwide have a vital role to play, in what the theologian Thomas Berry called the ‘great work’ of transition to just and sustainable ways of living.
The service of Christians and others of faith and goodwill can contribute positively to the resources and energy of human beings around the world, to mitigate climate change, adapt to it, safeguard the poor and vulnerable, and conserve life’s richness for the benefit of all.
- There remain grounds for hope. Most importantly, our hope for a safe and sustainable future is firmly grounded upon the commitment of God to his creation and to human beings, ‘made in his image’.
There is no place for passive or complacent faith in God, believing that he will protect us from the consequences of reckless actions; nor any over-confidence in ourselves, presuming that human ingenuity is bound to find ‘techno-fixes’ that will conjure up cheap and painless solutions.
By contrast, a steadfast faith, in God’s commitment and human cooperation working together as ‘co-creators’, can breathe life into the personal, ethical, political and technical responses we need to meet the challenges ahead. The Church of England has pledged itself to playing its full part in this great work before us all.
In addition to setting out a plan for environmental action up to 2016, Church and Earth proposed longer term targets for saving energy and carbon emissions – 42% by 2020, and 80% by 2050, both relative to a base date of 2005. These targets were adopted, and as of 2019, remain the targets of the Diocese of London. The target for 2050 remains the long-term target of the Church of England.