Reducing emissions from cathedrals

Aerial view of Salisbury Cathedral

Net Zero Carbon by 2030

Reducing emissions from cathedrals

By 2030, the buildings of the Church of England will be bright and welcoming, consuming much less energy and emitting less carbon than they do now. And that will be good for the people who use the buildings, and good for the whole of creation.

So how can we reduce the emissions of cathedrals to less than 10 per cent of baseline levels? Our Routemap to Net Zero Carbon by 2030 breaks down the journey into milestones to be completed by a particular year, taking it step by step with some easy wins now while laying the groundwork for long-term, more expensive investments that high-carbon emitting buildings will need to make after 2025.


By the end of 2023

  • All cathedrals registered for Eco Church and achieve Bronze.
  • Once complete, read the sustainability review and consider how recommendations can be implemented.
  • All cathedrals to complete the Energy Toolkit, available at

By the end of 2024

  • At the point of contract renewal, switch to 100% green electricity tariff. If you still have gas heating after having reviewed options to replace fossil fuels, switch to a green gas tariff at the point of contract renewal, based on national advice about the criteria to apply.

    Timing of this milestone to be kept under review, depending on stabilisation of the energy markets and / or government action.

By the end of 2025

  • No new oil boilers installed in cathedrals after this date.
  • For those cathedrals that are tourist destinations, review opportunities to install electric charging for coaches.

By the end of 2027

  • From 2022, all cathedrals to begin to develop a Net Zero Carbon Action Plan, to be finalised no later than 2027. These plans should include, as a minimum:
    • low-carbon heating options to replace fossil-fuel heating at end-of-life, such as heat pumps or far infra-red heating panels
    • a Heating Resilience Plan which should consider how to manage heat should the existing system fail, to avoid needing a quick like-for-like fossil-fuel replacement

By the end of 2030

  • Complete all actions in your Net Zero Carbon Action Plan.
Solar panels on Gloucester Cathedral roof


For the Church of England, being net zero carbon means that the carbon emissions of our buildings and travel will be reduced to less than 10 per cent of our baseline levels. The remaining emissions will be offset in verified schemes that reduce carbon. That means overall, our buildings and travel will not contribute to rising carbon emissions: their contribution will be ‘net zero’.

Responding to the climate crisis is an essential part of our responsibility to safeguard God’s creation and achieve a just world.

Climate change hits hardest on the poorest countries and poorest people of the world. Meanwhile, the widespread destruction of the natural world is a crisis for creation.

Tackling climate change also supports our local mission. It witnesses to our communities that we are people who care about climate justice, now and for the future. Also, many of the steps needed to reduce energy use will make our buildings warmer and more welcoming, so they are suitable to be used more often by more people, and can save us money on our running costs

To find out more about the background to the Routemap, other actions that you could consider, and the support that is available to you, please download the Resources document by clicking on the link below.

Download the Resource for Cathedrals

Tackling our carbon emissions

More resources