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C of E to consider 'ambitious' net zero carbon goal as it launches new energy rating tool

by Tola Mbakwe

The Church of England's governing body, General Synod, will soon consider a major new proposal to reach 'net zero' CO2 emissions.

The Church is planning to have ambitious year-on-year reductions in emissions to reach "net zero" by 2045 at the latest.

Rt Rev Nicholas Holtham, the Church of England's lead bishop for Environmental Affairs told Premier it will be a big collaborative effort as the Church owns 40,000 buildings.

"What you don't want is to reduce the carbon footprint by using the building less," he said.

"So it's not about making them less comfortable or less used, it's about making them more energy efficient. It's about using renewable energy or introducing things like solar panels and ground source heating.

"The big thing in many of the historic buildings is about energy efficiency and ensuring that they're well insulated.

"That's quite possible to do through things like draft exclusion and making sure that these spaces are airtight and well cared for, and having a different attitude to heating where you're not just trying to heat the space, but make it comfortable for the people who are in."

He said examples of innovative ways to keep people warm include "heated cushions or heating the space just under the pews".

In a bid to jump start a more environmentally-friendly Church of England, the Church has launched a new energy rating system similar to those used for household appliances to help monitor the carbon footprint of its buildings.

Bishop Nicholas told Premier climate change is "a deeply Christian concern" that the Church has a responsibility to address.

"This is the big issue of our day, if we're not paying attention to this, we're not paying attention to what God's doing in our world," he said.

 "We need to make a response out of climate justice. Some parts of the world are much more vulnerable than others… what we do affects everyone. How do we learn to love our neighbour? This is a deeply Christian concern."

A paper sent to Synod members also outlines the potential impacts of climate change directly affecting the Church. It warns parishes that, as impacts start to accelerate, more churches will need to be prepared to be play missional roles in their communities, including offering sanctuary in extreme weather events, as was seen at the church of St Cuthbert, Fishlake, following flooding of the River Don last year.

Synod will meet from 10th February to 13th February.

Listen to Bishop Nicholas speaking with Premier's Tola Mbakwe here: 


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