Connecting Eco Church and getting to Net Zero

27 May 2021
Comments 3
Category News
27 May 2021, Comments 3

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

3 responses on “Connecting Eco Church and getting to Net Zero

  1. Ann Williams says:

    I am so grateful to have the opportunity to comment here.
    We have registered with Eco Church and are not far off a bronze award, but as a smallish rural church it is very hard, for example to reduce use of cars. Also it has not been straightforward to switch electricity suppliers and we have ended up renewing our deal with SSE.
    We have been pursuing the installation of PV panels and had agreement from all the PCC that even if there were no savings for the church, it was a really good thing to do for the environment and the community…But, it has proved uneconomical.
    There is no backing for these schemes,that I can find. Also, churches are classed as businesses – how stupid is that!!

  2. Penny Clemons says:

    I agree with the above comments – small rural churches have no money! We have just had to pay for a new roof alarm ( a grant did help) to meet insurance criteria and much needed drainage work to the exterior of the church has been completed ( highlighted as essential in the 2015 Quinquennial report and again possible through a grant) The heating system is good – installed in 2015 it is economic and efficient -air 4 air source.
    We have been advised that as the roof is lead solar panels are not good because of the fixing, and we are with SSE electric for another term.
    The PCC is currently working toward a self-contained room within the church to act independently as a community space, the vestry has likewise been made an independent space as an office for the administrator.
    We have done little jobs like draught excluder around the main door.
    Outside in the churchyard the Foundation Governor is working with the village primary school to make a peaceful area of nature for reflection and learning.
    What else can you suggest?

  3. I do feel for these two rural churches. Mine is as small-town LEP church with <50 members. We managed to reach silver (amazingly) but there will always be those eco-recommendations that we cannot meet. I take the view (and I believe God agrees) that “we are called to do what we can, with what we’ve got, where we are”. That is ‘doing our best’ and is all that can be asked of any church. Be encouraged and keep on keeping on.