Church warms to challenge to go carbon neutral by 2030

 In News

The Church of England is warming to the challenge to go carbon neutral within ten years.

Its governing body, the General Synod, agreed to the move by 2030 at this month’s meeting with one idea being heated pew cushions to replace expensive and carbon generating radiators and electric heaters in some of their vast medieval cathedrals and churches.

Parishes will also be encouraged to have ground water heating rather than oil or gas systems for their places of worship to cut energy bills, which at the moment can cost up to £80,000 a year.

Other plans to hit zero carbon emissions in just over nine years’ time include using electric rather than petrol or diesel vehicles and putting in energy saving LEDs instead of light bulbs.

They also want to encourage biodiversity in churchyards and glebe land such as by planting orchards, and to launch an energy ratings system for buildings which include schools, halls and vicarages, plus bishops, clergy and senior staff being encouraged to fly less. 

“These are very imaginative and welcome plans by the Church of England, which is setting an excellent example,” said Ron Fox, of Noreus Ltd on the University of Keele Science and Innovation Park.

Some churches are already using a type of heated cushions developed by a Dutch inventor to replace patio heaters which create large amounts of wasted energy in bars and restaurant terraces.

The battery or mains operated cushions, costing around £100 each, provide heating for up to four hours with worshippers able to adjust the temperature.

One church is All Saints in Richard’s Castle, Shropshire, which installed them eight years ago. Former churchwarden Roly Alden said they switched to heated electric cable cushions because warmth from the overhead heaters was going straight up into the large 19th century church roof.

“It has cut our bills by up to 60 per cent; they are cheap to run and there have not been any issues since they were put in,” said Roly. “Church members found the cushions, which need to be switched on only ten minutes before the service, very comfortable and warm.” 

The Church of England is also launching an easy energy ratings system like on fridges and washing machines to monitor the carbon footprint of its buildings and to calculate their energy consumption.

The General Synod, which is made up of the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity with a total of 467 members, brought forward by 15 years a proposal to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030 instead of by 2045.

It said in its Climate Emergency paper that part of the solution would be to heat people and not buildings.

“I agree with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby,” said Ron, “who said that Christians have a sacred duty to protect the natural world we’ve so generously been given and to help our neighbours in the Third World who will be the first and worst affected by climate change.” 

For church members wanting more information about British-built infra-red church heaters, green energy and cutting energy bills call Ron on 0845 474 6641.

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