The initial phase of grants and projects totalling £30 million is set to benefit numerous churches, cathedrals, schools, and clergy residences throughout England as part of the Church of England's ambitious strategy to achieve net zero emissions by 2030. This will not only lead to cost savings by enhancing energy efficiency but also entail a transition to more affordable and dependable renewable energy sources.
Bishop Graham Usher, the leading Bishop for the Environment in the Church of England, said they want to "help safeguard God’s creation and achieve a just world”.
“Climate change is hitting the poorest people of the world hardest. We are already seeing the devastating effects of climate change, and we must act now. The Church is called to be a people of hope; to repent and live in harmony with our world; to treasure God's creation and to love our global neighbours.”
The Church of England's Net Zero Carbon Programme is now making available the first wave of grants, thanks to funding from the Church Commissioners for England. Around 600 churches with the highest energy consumption will be eligible for fully funded energy audits, accompanied by modest grants to devise action plans and initiate initial eco-friendly initiatives. Additionally, approximately 1,000 churches will have the opportunity to request subsidised audits. The program will also provide "Quick Wins" grants to facilitate small-scale improvements in churches, such as the installation of LED lighting or alternative heating solutions.
A Pilot and Evaluation Fund will facilitate experimentation with novel net zero carbon technologies, and demonstrator churches will receive technical and fundraising support packages, which will enable them to inspire other churches by sharing their own accomplishments in carbon emissions reduction.
The program will support detailed energy assessments of cathedrals and over 100 Church of England clergy residences across four dioceses, encompassing various types of housing and purposes. These surveys will offer insights into what is necessary to realise their net zero carbon objectives.
Julian Atkins, the Net Zero Carbon Programme Director with the Church Commissioners, said the announcement represents "the first major milestone of the Church of England’s Net Zero Carbon Programme".
"There will be more details on how dioceses and parishes can apply for support in the coming weeks and months – and what we learn during this phase will inform the future phases of our work.”