Environment, Climate Justice and Reaching Net Zero

The Diocese of Bristol is committed to addressing the environmental challenges that our community faces and in November 2019 declared a climate emergency. As part of this the diocese is working towards achieving a net zero carbon position by 2030.

Climate change may be the most serious issue ever faced by human communities. All forms of life across the planet are threatened and the poorest nations are set to suffer most, that's why this is a justice issue. General Synod voted in February 2020 for the whole of the Church of England to achieve net zero carbon by 2030.  The vote recognised that the global climate emergency is a crisis for God’s creation and a fundamental injustice.

Access the Net Zero Church support form

What is Net Zero? 

In 2019 The Diocese of Bristol declared a climate emergency and set a target to achieve Net Zero by 2030. It means that by 2030 we will have reduced our emissions by a minimum of 90% compared to our baseline year. The remaining emissions will be removed from the atmosphere or offset via high quality reputable offsets. 

The emissions included within the target include all emissions from our energy consumption in our clergy housing, VA and DBAT schools, churches and church halls. Transport emissions from our business travel by staff and clergy is also included. At the same time we are working to understand a wider range of emissions from commuting, investments and our supply chains, so that we can include these in a target at a later date. 

What else are we looking at? 

Social justice is fundamental to our common vision to become a more Christ-like Diocese. 

Our world is changing in new and unprecedented ways, we must think afresh about inequality, our communities, and what it means to be human. 

Climate justice is intricately linked to net zero, as those who have to contributed the least to climate change will suffer some of the most damaging impacts. 

Our responsibilities to care for creation are broader than just Net Zero Carbon emissions. Our policy commits us to embedding creation care in our worship, reducing impacts of our supply chain, working with local and national communities. See our policy for more detail. 

We are also working on biodiversity and land use strategies and supporting our VC schools to understand and reduce their emissions. 

With hundreds of community projects in the diocese, it’s clear that the church is doing some amazing things. 

Eco Diocese 

We achieved Bronze level Eco Diocese  and Silver level for our own office. Our office is powered with 100% renewable electricity and with no other fossil fuels on site, our energy is fully decarbonised. Even so , we are not stopping there and we are investigating options to reduce our energy consumption as well as generating electricity on site. 

Across Bristol Diocese 110 Churches have registered for Eco church and 31 have achieved Bronze, 18 Silver and we have two Gold Eco Church, Hazlenut Community Farm and St Peter's, Henleaze.

What is our strategy to achieve the target? 

Meeting our Net Zero Commitment is one part of our Transforming Church Together strategy.  It will require brave, creative, open and generous thinking and acting on the part of the diocese and the national church. The strategy follows the National Church Net Zero Roadmap and using the following principles: 

  1. Based in theology: Treasuring God’s creation (BIT) 

  1. Urgent, relevant and widely understood (URU) 

  1. Data-driven, focused and transparent (DDT) 

  1. Embedded in all we do (EIA) 

  1. Using less energy, and from cleaner sources (ULC) 

  1. Travelling sustainably (TS) 

  1. Offsetting only what we cannot reduce (OFF)  

We are working on a full carbon footprint for the diocese. This will enable us to start to identify other opportunities to reduce our emissions and track progress. 

We are modelling our emissions now and out to 2030 to enable us to map the impact of the carbon reduction measures we are planning. 

The Diocese is funding energy audits for all clergy housing, schools, churches and halls. The audits will provide decarbonisation plans for all buildings as well as enormously useful baseline data on our sites. 

The results of the audits as well as research and pilots programmes will help us to develop a technical approach which combines value for money, carbon reduction, protection of historic buildings and comfort for occupants. 

We also have a new outreach officer who is handholding parishes through the difficult journey to implementing their net zero plans. 

 
Resources and Initiatives

Resources

Application for Church Net Zero support

Carbon Literacy Course - A 6 hour online course covering – climate change, carbon footprints, how you can do your bit, and why it’s relevant to you and your community. The course is split into three sessions across three weeks. Dates are 10th April, 17th April and 24th April (all at 11:00 – 13:00). For more details and to book, visit this page or email environment@bristoldiocese.org

A practical path to 'net zero' for our churches - this guide describes the changes you can make to your church's carbon footprint, and much more guidance from the national church on becoming a net-zero church.

The national church have also produced a whole series of webinars on getting to net zero, Eco Church, and nature that are exceptionally useful. 

For creed and creation: a guide to a greener church - a longer, practical guide to greening your church. 

Latest initiatives:

Work towards an Eco Church award - this is a great tool to help your church improve not only its carbon footprint, but whole approach to creation care.

Green Christian: Deep Waters - A Project of Borrowed Time

Green Christian: Joy in Enough

Green Christian Online Workshops

Borrowed Time Lent Course - Calling a Wounded Earth Home

Joy in Enough Plenty Course

Operation Noah - Tenants of the King Bible study course

 
Theology

Christian guide to environmental issues - this book by Margot and Martin Hodgson is a great small group course to help your church explore practical ways to engage with environmental concerns.

Climate change and the church - a young persons perspective - a blog from Sophie Mitchell, Church of England Youth Council Representative and Bristol churchgoer.

Season of Creation - 1 September to 4 October each year marks the Season of Creation, a chance for us to pray for God’s world and all life upon it. As we aim for net zero emissions, all churches are encouraged to focus at least one Sunday in September on the environment.

COP28

COP28 is the 28th annual United Nations (UN) climate meeting where governments will discuss how to limit and prepare for future climate change. The summit is being held in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), running from 30 November until 12 December 2023. COP stands for "Conference of the Parties", where the "parties" are the countries that signed up to the original UN climate agreement in 1992. It is hoped COP28 will help keep alive the goal of limiting long-term global temperature rises to 1.5C. This was agreed by nearly 200 countries in Paris in 2015.

The 1.5C target is crucial to avoid the most damaging impacts of climate change, according to the UN's climate body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Recent estimates suggest the world is currently on track for about 2.4C to 2.7C of warming by 2100, although the exact numbers are uncertain. As a result, the window for keeping the 1.5C limit in reach is "rapidly narrowing", the UN says.

If we are to avoid the worst effects of climate change, there is no doubt we need to take drastic action, in global unity, now. However, with the COP President, being a chair of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc), a company that pumped 2.7m barrels of oil a day in 2021, with plans to double that by 2027, it is unlikely that substantial progress will be made.

The Church of England has produced a guide that includes information on what will happen at COP28; how the Church of England is getting involved and what you can do from home to support. Find out more and read it here. How Christians can get involved with UN climate conference - COP28 | The Church of England

Another angle of COP28 from Arocha - COP28: Taking stock of what’s needed on climate and nature - A Rocha UK

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