CHURCHES in the diocese of London reduced their energy
consumption by 22 per cent between 2005 and 2011, the Bishop of
London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, told the House of Lords this
Speaking during a Report Stage debate on the Energy Bill on
Monday, Bishop Chartres, who chairs the C of E's environment
campaign Shrinking the Footprint, said that he was "particularly
proud" that the new vicarage at St John's, Wembley, had been
awarded "the highest score ever under the code for sustainable
homes" in 2012.
"We have invested in a mixture of retrofit measures to address
the heating and lighting of a stock of buildings that were not
originally built with energy efficiency in mind," Bishop Chartres
"Renewable technology and behavioural change have helped an
institution such as ours, which emits as much carbon as a large
supermarket chain, to use energy more efficiently, while
maintaining open buildings. . . We represent people who are
seriously anxious to support the government policy and to operate
in the most efficient way."
The energy and climate-change minister Baroness Verma praised
Bishop Chartres for "the great energy reductions he has achieved,
which just shows that behaviour change towards energy usage can
make a huge amount of difference."
One clause in the Energy Bill provides for a pilot
electricity-demand reduction scheme. Bishop Chartres had tabled a
"constructive and supportive amendment", laying down specific
reduction targets, saying that "a nine-per-cent reduction in
overall electricity demand could save the equivalent of the output
of four power stations in one year."
The Bishop's amendment was withdrawn after the Lords agreed a
government amendment to the same clause, requiring a report on the
"operation and effectiveness" of the pilot to be made to both
Bishop Chartres also criticised the energy companies' billing
practices: "Many of those in fuel poverty . . . pay inflated prices
through meters in their homes, and the current position, whereby
the more energy you use, the more likely it is that the tariff will
be reduced, is surely unsustainable, as well as unfair.
"This Bill, which I heartily support in the main, provides an
opportunity to reflect on the wider costs of our energy habits and
how to make the best use of our resources, without penalising the
poorest in our society. In the UK, 6.5 per cent of households say
that they cannot keep their homes warm, as against 1.5 per cent in
Sweden. The figures for children living in fuel poverty, at 1.6
million, are especially alarming."
Christian Aid has described the narrow rejection of an amendment
tightening the Bill's decarbonisation target as "a vote for
continued confusion in the UK electricity sector". The aid agency's
senior adviser on climate change, Dr Alison Doig, said: "The Lords'
vote will further delay the UK's search for a cost-effective way to
achieve our vital commitments under the Climate Change Act."
The Bishop of Chester, Dr Peter Forster, is co-signatory of an
amendment that will be debated later at Report Stage, calling for
greater transparency for consumers, so that energy bills will show
in detail the different amounts that go to environmental levies,
administration costs, wholesale energy costs, and other categories.
The Lords will resume their Report Stage debate on Monday.
Question of the week: Has your church reduced its energy
bill in the past few years?