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Climate Action Programme

The Diocese of London’s Climate Action Programme for churches is part of the Diocese’s strategic plan to reduce the energy use and carbon footprint of all its buildings and property.

Our Climate Action Programme supports the contribution of churches to this plan. Its purpose is to cut the carbon emissions of our 470+ churches across the Diocese to Net Zero by 2030.

This effort forms part of the Church of England Environment Programme, to which the Diocese of London is committed.

The following broad initiatives have been undertaken so far:

Parish Annual Returns

The first step towards cutting carbon emissions from buildings is to measure their energy use.

Energy and carbon emissions from churches in the Diocese have been measured and reported since 2005, using the system of Parish Annual Returns.

This facility is now provided by Energy Footprint Tool, part of the national Church of England system of online Annual Returns. By 2021, churches in the Diocese of London had improved their efficiency by 28.8% in terms of their annual energy use, and 41.8% in terms of net greenhouse gas emissions (CO2e).

Three basic steps

Once we have measured our energy use and carbon footprint, we need to take steps to reduce them, by:

  • Replacing lightbulbs with low energy models (usually LEDs)
  • Reviewing our heating system, and its settings
  • Switching to a green energy supplier.

Most of our churches have already taken some or all of these actions.

Environmental Audits

Working with environmental consultants Aardvark EM Ltd, environmental audits to measure energy use, carbon emissions, water and waste in individual churches were carried out in 2009 and following to 60 churches in the Two Cities Area of the Diocese. A smaller number of churches outside the Two Cities Area were also audited under this programme.

24 more audits were conducted in 2017 to churches in the Islington Deanery, part of Cloudesley’s award-winning 500th Anniversary Sustainable Churches Grants Programme.

Generic Building Solutions

A sample of churches from around the Diocese was chosen to devise typical solutions for radical change to buildings.

The churches sampled included a range of different buildings, in order to generate guidance applicable to churches across the Diocese, and nationwide.

These churches were visited and a report produced by the renowned multi-disciplinary firm Arup. This was updated in 2016.

Feasibility studies were completed for a pilot group of churches, and two of the resulting projects have been implemented.

Energy-saving Benchmarking

Developed in partnership with Rickaby Thompson Associates, this project delivered in-depth analysis of the energy use and efficiency of participating churches.

Average consumption and carbon footprints for churches in the Diocese were estimated from Energy Footprint Tool results (see above).

But there is no such thing as an average church! Benchmarking has enabled plans to be produced for individual churches according to their energy use, size, attendance and the various activities which take place there.

A site-specific target was also set for each church’s future savings, representing its fair share of the efforts of all churches to meet the Diocese’s targets.

Almost one third of churches in London took part in Energy-saving Benchmarking.

Energy-saving Benchmarking was also employed in support of Cloudesley’s Environmental Audits in Islington.

The national Energy Footprint Tool now also includes a benchmarking element, partly based on London’s system.

Climate Action Projects

Having measured and benchmarked energy use and carbon emissions, the next step is to make changes to buildings and their pattern of use so as to increase efficiency and drive down emissions.

A wide range of such Climate Action Projects have been undertaken. This includes projects funded by Cloudesley’s 500th Anniversary Grants Programme, as well as many others around all parts of the Diocese.

Green Energy in a Times of Crisis

In the links below you will find a video of this online seminar by the Willesden Episcopal Area.


Church of England Environment Programme.

Energy and carbon, global warming and climate change
Measuring Energy Use
Parish Annual Returns (for national Energy Footprint Tool).

Heating and energy use
Lighting and energy use
Green Energy Suppliers.

Climate Action Projects
Green Energy in a Time of Crisis – recorded session.

Cloudesley’s 500th Anniversary Sustainable Churches Grants Programme
European Award for Islington churches grants programme
Islington sustainability award.

Environment and Sustainability, front page.

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