Whole sections of civil society need to take action to cut greenhouse gas emissions – and the church is one sector. A Rocha UK is working to help get churches to Net Zero through our Eco Church programme and is breaking new ground to help the UK get there too. Staff have recently been asked to speak at several conferences on this important issue.
In the last year the Church of England, Church in Wales and Church of Scotland, have set a Net Zero target for 2030 for their own operations – much more aligned with what the science is telling us is necessary than the government’s 2050 target. A Rocha UK’s goal now is to reach 10% of churches with Eco Church by the end of 2023 and for 50% of registered churches to gain awards.
5 years after A Rocha UK launched Eco Church, with 3,500 registered Eco Churches in England and Wales, Eco Church has become a national community of churches addressing the environmental crisis using a common framework, a growing toolkit, learning and speaking up together. The tools are online resources – whether that is teaching the Biblical mandate to care for God’s creation, or reducing fossil fuel energy. As a church reaches a certain level, A Rocha recognises this achievement with a bronze, silver and then gold award. Andy Atkins explains:
“In all my 35 years of campaigning on social justice and the environment I cannot remember a time so fraught with risk and so overflowing with opportunity. I believe Christians and churches can have a critical influence on this outcome, they can become beacons of good practice on tackling climate change”
Net Zero means sharply reducing the amount of greenhouse gases we emit into the atmosphere, and balancing out the remainder with at least equivalent amounts taken out of the atmosphere by planting trees, restoring forests and capturing carbon. The solutions to reducing emissions are many and range from economic and social (such as tax incentives and learning communities) through technological to ‘natural’ (such as renewable energy and planting trees). Andy Atkins says: “Addressing climate change is a profound opportunity for human society to learn to live in balance with other parts of God’s creation, as he intended. Christians and churches have unique assets to bring to bear to this challenge of our generation and Eco Church provides a learning community with multiple tools in which churches can advance together.”
Written by A Rocha UK’s Press and Communications Officer Tamsin Morris for our May 2021 eNews.
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Image by: Ruth Wright