Programme of Activity Towards Net Zero
In February 2020 the Church of England General Synod set a goal for the Church to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030.
The Motion stated that this Synod, recognising that the global climate emergency is a crisis for God’s creation, and a fundamental injustice,
- 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;
- request reports on progress from the Environment Working Group and the NCI’s everythree years beginning in 2022 and;
- call on each Diocesan Synod, and cathedral Chapter, to address progress toward netzero emissions every three years.
The Diocese in Europe addressed the challenge of Caring for Creation in detail at its Synod in 2018 and chaplaincies have worked hard towards becoming Eco Churches. As at May 2022, 8 chaplaincies have achieved the bronze award from A Rocha, and one silver, and the Diocese and Bishop’s Offices have also been awarded Bronze Diocese status.
At Diocesan Synod in December 2021 the work of the Net Zero Working Group was endorsed in a debate which ended with the unanimous approval for this motion: This Synod pledges to devise and promote a programme of activity across the Diocese so that the Diocese in Europe is in line with the General Synod’s pledge 'to work to achieve year-on-year reductions in emissions and urgently examine what would be required to reach net zero emissions by 2030'. This work to be led by the Net Carbon Neutral Working Group and reported to Diocesan Synod in June 2022.
Both the updated Care for Creation policy and the programme of activity to be discussed are the outcome of the considerations over the past 6 months.
Introduction - Programme of Activity towards net zero
The Diocese in Europe supports and contributes to the Church of England goal of net zero by 2030.
The activity programme has drawn upon the areas of action and milestones in the National Routemap (draft, as per consultation early 2022). Additional targets, areas of action and activities are expected to be added in future phases.
The programme of activity contributes to the realisation of the Care for Creation Policy.
The Church of England National Environment Working Group have developed a definition of what is in scope for the net zero 2030 target and this was updated in September 2020 after national consultation. The key activity areas to be addressed in the net zero 2030 scope as defined by the Church of England are energy use in buildings and work-related travel.
The first phase activity programme for the Diocese in Europe follows this lead in having its main focus on these same areas. However, as more information is gathered on relative areas of activity and carbon footprint in the Diocese, it is expected this scope will be expanded in future plans.
It is noted that while lifestyle-related carbon emissions are not currently included in the nationally defined scope for the church’s net zero 2030 target, (and not a primary focus of the Diocesan programme below) this is an area where it is vital to support each other on our common and faith-led journey. The Eco-church programme is a particularly useful framework to enable congregations to engage with lifestyle issues more closely.
Phase 1 activity programme below covers activities commencing in 2022 through 2024. Further phases (additional areas and activities) will be added in future years
Obstacles & challenges
- Awareness raising and motivation to support prioritisation of lower carbon strategies
- Resources - financial resources, expertise, and human resources will be required, difficult to quantify on a Diocesan level Competing agendas - chaplaincies are faced with many requirements and important issues; alongside which the urgency of reducing carbon footprint needs to be addressed
It is recognised that the following challenges will need to be confronted:
The Diocese in Europe also has some specific characteristics compared to dioceses in England in working towards net zero. These include:
- Relatively low ‘ownership’ of buildings, with many chaplaincies sharing and/or renting premises (church, offices, accommodation etc)
- Diversity of national contexts, including the availability of energy alternatives, national standards etc.
- Distance - wide geographical spread with a low density of churches results in high travel requirements for church representatives and congregation members.
Facilitators & enablers
The following factors will support the Diocese in its activities towards net zero milestones
- Availability of good practice examples, success stories shared across the Diocese through communications channels and specific events
- Tools, including from expert team at National level
- Diocesan Staff member(s) with Net Zero support role (envisaged).
- Diocesan Net Zero Working Group
- European Green Deal provides a supportive framework at top level Europe, (if not yet always reflected in more local policy or non-EU countries)
- Diocese in Europe EU Climate Pact commitment
- Eco-Church award engagement which is growing in awareness, action and momentum, and where significant progress has been made in the diocese
Measurement and oversight
- Progress on the NZ programme of activity will be reported regularly to Synod and Bishop’s Council and updated on an annual basis to reflect improved information, resources available and continuous improvement.
- The Net Zero Working Group will make proposals to the Bishop’s Council for further development of the NZ programme of activity, and means to implement it.
- The House of Laity and House of Clergy of the Diocesan Synod will each be represented in the Net Zero Working Group.
- At current Phase 1, there is not enough data to determine a complete range of targets for emissions reduction (and therefore to what extent offsetting may be required).
- Data collection and development of future actions and interim targets will therefore continue alongside the immediate engagement in activities which clearly contribute towards net zero.
Towards Net Zero in the Diocese of Europe - Phase 1 Activity Programme (2022-2024)
Focus - energy, buildings, work-related travel.
DO = Diocesan Office DBF = Diocesan Board of Finance
NZWG = Net Zero Working Group
AD = Archdeaconries CHAPS = Chaplaincies
BS = Bishop’s Senior Staff
This plan to be reviewed and extended on an annual basis, including with additional areas
- 'churches' includes includes Cathedral and ProCathedrals.
*- references as per draft version route map as consulted to Feb 2022.