Church of England commits to net-zero emissions by 2030

The Church of England will "urgently examine" what will be required to reach net-zero emissions, after a vote was passed to set the target for 2030, 15 years ahead of an initially recommended date.

Church of England commits to net-zero emissions by 2030

The Working Group

The Church of England synod voted on Wednesday (12 February) to set the net-zero emissions target for 2030. The date was proposed by Canon Professor Martin Gainsborough for Bristol. It is an amendment to the initially recommended target year of 2045.

The Church of England and its Environment Working Group and National Church Institutions will now examine the steps required to reach net-zero, which will likely cover the near 40,000 buildings owned and operated by the Church.

The Church of England’s lead bishop for the Environment Bishop of Salisbury Nick Holtam said: “To reach Synod’s target of 2030 we will each need to hear this as an urgent call to action, but I am encouraged by the statement of intent this makes across the Church, and wider society about our determination to tackle Climate Change, and safeguard God’s creation.”

The Working Group, National Church Institutions and every cathedral body and Diocesan Synod will provide progress reports and updates towards the net-zero ambition every three years.

Divestment drive

The Church of England’s three National Investing Bodies (NIBS) – the Church Commissioners for England, the Church of England Pensions Board and CBF Church of England Funds – representing more than £12bn, last month joined the UN’s Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance, a coalition with more than $4.3trn in assets under management attempting to engage with corporates to reach net-zero emissions. The Church of England begun its divestment process from fossil fuel investments back in 2015. 

Christian Aid’s Director of Policy and Campaigns, Patrick Watt, said: “No organisation on the planet should be more aggrieved by the suffering and injustice of climate change than the Church. The Church can and must have a long-term perspective that spans the generations. This is something from which governments and business can learn.

“It is hugely positive to see the Church of England placing itself at the forefront of action to address the climate emergency.  As Synod recognised, this will be a challenging target to meet and the Church will need to work hard to meet it, but it will be celebrated by vulnerable people on the front lines of the climate crisis who will see an institution taking the danger seriously and responding to it.”

Matt Mace

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