Home / Route 2050
Table of Contents Share this page

Share an article by email

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Children at the Route 2050 launch

Route 2050

Route 2050 is the Diocese of London’s strategic long-term plan to reduce the energy use and carbon footprint of all its buildings and property.

Route 2050 is itself a major part of the Diocese’s environmental campaign, part of the national Shrinking the Footprint campaign.

See also Energy and carbon, global warming and climate change.


Route 2050 was launched by Bishop Richard Chartres, the then Bishop of London, at the event of the same name on 9 May 2011, introduced by a team of children from St George-the-Martyr Primary School (picture).

The purpose of Route 2050 is to map the Diocese’s journey towards cutting its energy use and carbon emissions by at least 42% by 2020 and 80% by 2050. This means first and foremost cutting energy use and emissions from all buildings that the Church in the Diocese of London is responsible for.

The first stage in Route 2050 was the Diocese’s Climate Action Programme for churches – and this continues. Route 2050 also covers other premises including St Paul’s Cathedral, the Diocese’s clergy housing and other property, as well as church schools and the Diocese’s own offices.

Attention is also given to water use, and waste disposal and recycling.

Lifestyle questions also have a bearing, such as what we buy and where it comes from. This probably matters most in relation to our food. Agriculture makes a huge contribution to emissions and climate change. See Food and drink.

Emissions from transport by worshippers travelling to and from church are very hard to measure; however advice is given for congregations and individuals to consider. See Transport, air travel and the environment.

Property and buildings

Property and buildings contribute by far the majority of emissions which are the responsibility of the Diocese and churches.

  • Figures below include direct emissions from fossil fuels (gas and oil), together with emissions from non-renewable electricity generation and transmission.
  • The security and cost of energy also need to be considered – though the effort to mitigate climate change is most important.
  • Water and waste also contribute to indirect emissions; we need to economise and recycle. However these are not included in reporting churches’ carbon emissions; for most churches they contribute no more than about 1% of total emissions (the proportion may be much higher for other buildings, and for personal use).

Churches and church halls

There is a high level of commitment to environmental action around parishes and churches. Church buildings and halls, parish rooms, vestries and church offices form the core of efforts to reduce energy use and emissions.

The effort to reduce energy use and emissions is supported by the Diocese’s:

Fuel use in churches is reported in Parish Annual Returns. The figures are analysed and reported one year in arrears.

Baseline emissions were 21,000 tonnes of CO2e in 2005. Future targets are as follows:

  • 42% savings, reducing to 12,200 tonnes by 2020
  • 80% savings, reducing to 4,200 tonnes by 2050.

Targets are weather adjusted annually.

Progress on churches and halls

Our best years so far were 2013 and 2017:

  • From 2005 – 2013, churches and halls in the Diocese saved 23% in annual energy use, and 16% in their annual emissions, reducing to 17,600 tonnes CO2e.

  • The equivalent figures for 2017 were 14% savings in energy, and 15% in emissions. However this does not take account of nationwide reductions in the emissions intensity of electricity, to which churches along with others have partly contributed. Once this is factored in, emissions have gone down by 17% – leaving an annual footprint of 17,400 tonnes CO2e by 2017.

To drill down in more detail:

The trend is for emissions savings to overtake energy savings – a positive trend attributable to the wider use of low energy lighting.

St Paul’s Cathedral

The Cathedral has audited its environmental performance, including in relation to energy, carbon, water and waste, policy issues and communications to staff and visitors. Following this, an environmental policy was adopted.

A wide range of recommendations were made with opportunities for improvement. The Cathedral’s new lighting system had already reduced electricity consumption. Since the first review, improvements have been made in recycling and food sourcing, and in communications, including a regular column in the staff newsletter.

St Paul’s Institute takes a lead in education upon environmental and sustainability – running events with speakers including Archbishop Rowan Williams, former UN Chief Kofi Annan, the UN’s Climate Change Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres, and Sir David Attenborough.

Church schools

The first diocesan organisation to formalise its response to environmental challenges was the Diocesan Board for Schools (LDBS), with a report on the environmental responsibilities of church schools in 1994.

The LDBS promotes education in the Diocese, and provides support services to church schools as well as establishing new schools.

The LDBS and Diocesan Schools are committed to the Diocesan Environmental Challenge.

Church of England Schools take environmental issues seriously. More than half of the Diocese’s 150 schools are registered with Eco-schools – 51%. More than 30% have achieved Bronze or Silver Awards, or Flags of different grades, including Hackney Free & Parochial School which achieved its 4th Green Flag in 2008.

Within the Diocesan Religious Education Scheme, primary schools spend one term on relating the environment to God’s World. Many schools have whole school initiatives on the environment, which often involve school councils and children leading environmental awareness projects with practical outcomes such as savings on water, paper and electricity. Many schools including inner-city schools have gardens, so children can eat food they have grown, harvested and cooked.

Schools above the threshold size are required to have Display Energy Certificates (DECs).

When capital is available, energy efficient boilers, new windows and other improvements are installed. Rainwater harvesting is another popular objective.

St Mary’s Primary School in Finchley was the first Diocesan School to install photovoltaic panels, commissioned in 2010. There is widespread ambition to install solar panels – though the Feed-in Tariff system has reduced the availability of capital grants, while schools are subject to restrictions on borrowing.

BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Measure) Very Good standard is the target for new schools. New buildings have included ground source heat pumps.

Diocesan property

Diocesan property owned or managed by the London Diocesan Fund includes residential property, commercial property (including residential lettings), and the diocesan offices at 36 Causton Street.

Energy in commercial lettings is the responsibility of tenants.

The total carbon footprint of the residential segment was estimated at approximately 2,000 tonnes of CO2, as of 2005. Future targets are as follows:

  • 42% savings, reducing to 1,160 tonnes by 2020
  • 80% savings, reducing to 400 tonnes by 2050.

Clergy residential accommodation

The carbon footprint of clergy accommodation in 2005 was estimated at 10,400 tonnes of CO2. Future targets for clergy homes are as follows:

  • 42% savings, reducing to 6,000 tonnes by 2020
  • 80% savings, reducing to 2,100 tonnes by 2050.

Work done includes low-cost measures such as draught exclusion, following home energy surveys together with quinquennial inspections and repairs. Boilers are replaced with energy-efficient models when they become due. Windows requiring replacement are replaced with new sealed double-glazed units. A wider programme of double glazing is making good progress.

In addition:

  • New parsonages are being designed where feasible to Code 6 (the best) under the Code for Sustainable Homes. The first such parsonage was St John’s Wembley; several more have followed;
  • A programme of Solar panels installations for parsonages has installed solar arrays to 10 older properties so far.

36 Causton Street

The Diocesan Office occupies premises at 36 Causton Street, London SW1. Carbon emissions from fuel and power were as follows:

Year CO2e – Gross Net Occupancy Share – Gross Net
2005 207.2 tonnes Same 100% 207.2 tonnes same
2017 134.5 tonnes 16.7 tonnes 57.3% 77.1 tonnes 9.6 tonnes

Since 2006, electricity has been purchased from Good Energy, which supplies to the grid 100% renewable electricity equal to that consumed by its customers. Net figures are after subtracting this.

Parts of the building have been let to other organisations. The Diocese’s percentage share is shown in the 4th column of the table above. Figures in the 5th and 6th columns have been discounted accordingly.

Savings achieved in CO2e were as follows:

  • Building: 35% gross, 92% net;
  • Diocesan offices: 63% gross, 95% net.

Progress is as follows:

  • The 2020 target of 42% has been achieved for net figures for the building, and gross or net figures for the diocesan offices;
  • The 2050 target of 80% has been achieved for net figures in respect of the building as a whole, and for the diocesan offices.

Since 2014, the small residue of emissions after the foregoing discounts are now offset annually by funding the planting of trees by the Woodland Trust. This makes the Diocese’s offices net carbon neutral for fuel and power (bot not necessarily overall).

The findings of an environmental audit have been applied, including savings in water consumption, DOSs (daylight/occupancy sensors) have been installed, and the switch-on period for heating in winter months has been reduced, all in conjunction with simple management and awareness-raising.

Procurement and supply chains

The Diocesan offices use 100% recycled paper.

Car parking in 36 Causton Street is tightly restricted. Use of public transport or bicycle is encouraged.

Waste from 36 Causton Street is separated and recycled. Food waste is converted to biofuel by anaerobic digestion. Residual general waste is incinerated for electricity generation, on a zero to landfill basis. The Diocese’s waste contractors are The First Mile.

Used IT hardware is donated for reconditioning for the developing world.

Parish property

Property in parishes is owned under a variety of trust arrangements, including church halls and accommodation for church workers.

Energy use from church halls is included in reporting for churches (above).

PCCs and trustees are encouraged to manage other property according to Shrinking the Footprint principles, ensuring that opportunities for energy-saving improvements are taken advantage of.

Implementation schedule

The following improvements schedule for buildings is in progress (numbers relate to churches but similar proportions can be translated to other property):

2010-2011 (past)

  • Planning, priorities, strategic choices
  • Basic energy reduction and retrofitting.

2012-2020 (current)

  • Demo development schemes
  • Spin-offs, parish programmes.

2021-2032 (future)

  • Up to about 150 churches upgraded or remodelled.


  • Remaining churches improved, up to say 300.


As of 2019, the second phase in the above programme is in progress, but will need to be rapidly accelerated in order to meet such challenging targets.

Substantial capital investment will be required. See Climate Action Finance.


The Diocese of London’s 2020 target of 42% is based on the advice of the statutory Committee on Climate Change (CCC), without any precondition on worldwide agreement.

The target of 80% emissions cuts by 2050 was based on the 4th Assessment Report of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2007, which advised that worldwide emissions cuts of 50% were needed by 2050. 80% is the UK’s share of that total (the UK’s per capita emissions being more than double the global average).

The UK’s long-term UK national target was strengthened to net zero by 2050, in response to more recent IPCC advice, and also the advice of the CCC. For the time being the London Diocese (and the national Church of England) continue to hold to the 80% target.

All percentage targets are for cuts in emissions in CO2e (the amount of CO2 making an equal contribution to warming as the total of a ‘basket’ of greenhouse gases). The same percentages do not apply to energy use – changes in GHG emissions and in energy use differ, depending on fuel proportions.

The Church of England through its bishops in the House of Lords, including the Bishop of London, pledged to review its targets in the light of the latest scientific evidence. This has already occurred: the UK’s target for 2050 was originally for a 60% cut, raised to an 80% cut on the advice of the CCC.


The Church of England’s baseline from which cuts are measured is 2005. The worldwide standard baseline is 1990, but 2005 is the first year from which we have measurements, and an approximation for calibrating the Church’s contribution to the national effort.

The UK’s emissions fell by 16% from 1990 to 2005. The Church of England might be assumed to partake of that saving. However, only 6.8% savings (less than half of the UK’s 16% total savings) were attributable to reduced CO2, the anthropogenic greenhouse gas accounting for most non-industrial emissions. Moreover, the UK’s savings were largely due to switching power generation from coal to gas. But electricity contributes about one third of emissions from churches. It is therefore unlikely that the Church’s emissions were less in 2005 than in 1990.

Emissions factors and renewable energy

Emissions factors for electricity, gas and oil (kgs of emissions of CO2e per kWh) are taken from tables published by the Departments of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Rolling grid averages are used to assess gross emissions associated with electricity drawn from the grid, for any supplier or tariff, renewable or otherwise. This is because financial subsidies for investment in renewable electricity are contributed to by other suppliers (and some of their customers will be churches too).

50% of emissions from electricity generated on site (e.g. from photovoltaic panels), is deducted from purchased electricity, being the proportion of generation deemed to be exported. The net figure is then valued at the grid emissions factor.

No allowance has been made for future reductions in grid emissions factors, which is uncertain. Reductions will be contributed to by any premises switching to green energy.

Gross calorific value (CV) is used for gas, bearing in mind some parishes return figures from bills, which are usually converted from unit volume using gross CV.

Renewable heat will be treated as carbon neutral for gross and net calculations (though there may be a contribution from electricity e.g. to power a heat pump, assessed in the same way as other electricity).

to top