Church launches consultation on plans to get to net zero carbon in just nine years as new Synod prepares to meet


The Church of England is to consult dioceses, cathedrals, national institutions, parishes, schools, and other interested parties on a proposed routemap to achieve net zero carbon by 2030, as papers are published for November's inaugural meeting of a new General Synod.
Solar panels on Gloucester Cathedral roof

The draft routemap, published among today's General Synod papers, suggests how all parts of the Church of England can make changes together to achieve the ambitious target set by General Synod in 2020 to be net zero carbon 20 years ahead of the Government’s targets. 

It includes recommendations for building maintenance, heating and the availability of specialist advice for each setting alongside how the central Church and dioceses can offer support.

The newly elected Synod will be formally inaugurated on Tuesday November 16 at the start of a two-day meeting. 

Items on the agenda include a debate on the wealth gap in the UK and discussions about Church matters including the recent review of governance and the development of a new vision and strategy for the Church of England in the 2020s and beyond.

That includes an ambitious goal to double the number of children and young people in churches.

The recent elections attracted a record number of candidates (with 956 standing for the Houses of Clergy and Laity combined) and returned a majority of new members - 60 per cent of those elected.

The meeting at Church House Westminster will be the first full group pf sessions held in person since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Making possible Synod's 'ambitious target' of net-zero by 2030

The draft net zero carbon routemap has been written by a sub-committee of the Church of England’s Environmental Working Group, chaired by the Bishop of Selby, Dr John Thomson, with advice from across the Church and charities. 

He said: “God’s creation is in crisis, and there is an urgent call to address this at every level of our global community, to protect creation, including the world’s poorest communities who are being affected the most and soonest by climate change.

“Synod has set an ambitious target, and this represents the next step in building consensus around a workable plan for the whole Church to meet that aim and to make the target possible.

“We recognise this will be challenging and there will be a financial cost, however many adaptations can also be made simply and quickly, such as switching to a green energy provider, filling gaps in windows, and changing lightbulbs, all of which can help to reduce energy costs.

“I encourage individuals and communities to engage with these consultation proposals and to think at every level what can be done to be part of the change we need to live out in response to our Christian calling to safeguard and care for all of God’s creation.” 

Global leaders will be meeting in Glasgow to discuss how the world can tackle the climate emergency following increasingly frequent extreme weather events, the IPCC’s “code red for humanity” report, and depleting biodiversity. 

The Government has committed to a target of net zero carbon by 2050, with an interim target of a 78 per cent reduction, set in April 2021.

Becky Clark, Director of Churches and Cathedrals for the Archbishops' Council, said: "This consultation seeks to gather a wide range of views to build consensus on how the Church of England can both reduce its carbon footprint and also model care for creation.

"Buildings are at the heart of this and all involved are aware of the significant challenges, not least to parishes and cathedrals struggling to recover from the pandemic.

"However there are already amazing examples of churches that are at the vanguard of low carbon adaptations, demonstrating that even the highest listed buildings can make vital changes and be part of tackling the climate emergency.”

Anyone can respond to the consultation online before the closing date of 28 February 2022, with responses particularly requested from Dioceses and Cathedrals.

There will be a series of information sessions, open to all, in the autumn of 2021 to discuss the suggestions, and answer questions arising during the consultation period.

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