Reducing the causes of climate change is essential to the life of faith

First published on: 5th June 2020

"Reducing the causes of climate change is essential to the life of faith. It is a way to love our neighbour and to steward the gift of creation."

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

As we approach World Environment Day (5th June) and Environment Sunday (7th June), we recall that in 2018 Bishop Paul asked Faiths4Change to lead the Diocese of Liverpool in an ambitious campaign to become a Gold Eco-Diocese. In 2019 we took our first steps towards meeting that goal by becoming a Bronze Eco-Diocese. Through the tremendous efforts of many people in different places of worship we achieved so much in such a short time including our first Gold Eco Church, Silver and Bronze awarded Eco Churches and many churches beginning the process by registering.
In Interfaith Week 2019, we celebrated our Eco Diocese award with a service in our cathedral and Bishop Paul hosted our first multi-faith climate change gathering, leading a multi-faith commitment to the City Region Year of the Environment.
In June 2019 as we approached World Environment Day and Environment Sunday, our Diocese had 33 registered Eco Churches including St James House, a draft environmental policy and 5 churches with Eco Church Awards.
We currently have 69 registered Eco Churches, 17 of whom have achieved Eco Church awards: 10 Bronze, 6 Silver and 1 Gold, our environment policy, approved by Synod last year, is an active one.  These foundations and commitment to care for God’s earth equip us as we commit to and plan our 10-year journey to become a gold eco-diocese and reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.
At its February 2020 meeting, General Synod members voted in favour of revising the date that all parts of the Church of England would become carbon net zero from 2045 to 2030. The motion agreed was this:
That this Synod, recognising that the global climate emergency is a crisis for God’s creation, and a fundamental injustice, and following the call of the Anglican Communion in ACC Resolutions A17.05 and A17.06;
(a) call upon all parts of the Church of England, including parishes, BMOs [Bishop Mission Orders], education institutions, dioceses, cathedrals, and the NCIs [National Church Institutions], to work to achieve year-on-year reductions in emissions and urgently examine what would be required to reach net zero emissions by 2030 in order that a plan of action can be drawn up to achieve that target;
(b) request reports on progress from the Environment Working Group and the NCI’s every three years beginning in 2022 and;
(c) call on each Diocesan Synod, and cathedral Chapter, to address progress toward net zero emissions every three years.

The Diocese of Liverpool is committed to the care of God’s creation by becoming a gold eco-diocese and reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.
These two very specific and yet interrelated targets are rooted in mission, the 5th Mark of Mission infuses all 5 Marks.
Eco Diocese
Faiths4Change will continue to help churches to become eco-churches and create plans with us to become a Gold Eco Diocese.  Meanwhile we want to encourage churches to use the lockdown time to consider how they might work through the requirements and make plans for the reopening of church buildings bearing in mind the opportunities for new ecological ways of being church. Faiths4Change are available for advice and support.
Net-zero carbon emissions
What do we mean by net zero carbon emissions?
We are measuring and planning to reduce operational carbon emissions which are mostly generated through energy use and transport within our Diocese.   To achieve net zero we need to identify our gross operational carbon emissions and reductions we are making through actions such as switching to 100% renewable energy tariffs, minimising waste & recycling and maintaining our buildings well.
First Steps
The first step toward us meeting this target is to understand what energy is being used and how much of this is ecologically sourced. So, in the next 3 months the Diocesan Environment Officer Phil Leigh and Liz Atherton from Faiths4Change will be emailing and then calling all churches promoting the Church of England Energy Foot printing Tool. This is the first thing we can do together to begin our journey toward net-zero. Each PCC will be asked to record their data for energy use in 2019. This way we then have a baseline for us to understand the extent of the challenge we face and how we can make steady year on year improvements either by reducing the carbon emissions or by strategically offsetting.   
We are also undertaking full audits of the ecological impact of St James’ House and Bishop’s Lodge (both of which are bronze eco-churches) so already have taken steps toward net-zero carbon emissions.
To this end we have set up an eco church /net-zero action group, chaired by Ellen Loudon, Director of Social Justice that is meeting every two weeks to discuss progress on this work and plan actions and events. This is where we can all participate. This action group would like to hear from people who are committed to ensuring that we meet these targets and that we become an ecologically sustainable diocese by 2030. As well as all the action that people can take as outlined above we are calling for interested individuals, churches or groups to get in touch with Ellen Loudon, Director of Social Justice if they are interested in forming a diocesan net-zero task group.
Do Ten Things

  1. Complete the Church of England Energy Footprinting Tool https://www.churchofengland.org/more/policy-and-thinking/our-views/environment-and-climate-change/energyfootprinting or contact Phil Leigh to find out more pleigh@liverpool.anglican.org
  2. Celebrate Environment Sunday on 7th June 2020, accessible resources are available for Worship & Teaching and much more (free although donations welcome)

https://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/resources/

  1. Faiths4Change can offer support with all things Eco Church via phone, email & zoom. Please get in touch with Liz Atherton at liz@faiths4change.org.uk
  2. Register to become an eco-church (please note that this will be only possible after July 2020) https://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/
  3. Raise the profile of the net-zero campaign by putting it on the agenda of your PCC
  4. Sign up for the Big Church Switch

https://www.bigchurchswitch.org.uk/

  1. Join the Faith and Climate Action facebook page https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=Faith%20Climate%20Action
  2. Contact Ellen Loudon to become an activist and lead climate change action so we can meet the net-zero target together as a diocese ellen.loudon@liverpool.angican.org
  3. Read Faiths4Change Annie Merry’s chapter in 12 Rules for Christian Activists https://canterburypress.hymnsam.co.uk/books/9781786222442/12-rules-for-christian-activists

Support the work of A Rocha https://arocha.org.uk/
 


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