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‘Eco dioceses’ all round in race to reach 2030 goal

13 January 2022

A ROCHA UK

A community art project, “Lament and Hope”, encouraged reflections on pandemic experiences through the making of recycled fabric postcards. The project was held in Chelmsford Cathedral

A community art project, “Lament and Hope”, encouraged reflections on pandemic experiences through the making of recycled fabric postcards. The projec...

ALL 42 dioceses in the Church of England have signed up to become “eco dioceses” as part of their commitment to reaching carbon net zero by 2030.

Under the Eco Dioceses scheme, developed by the charity A Rocha UK, churches and dioceses are awarded bronze, silver, or gold status, depending on actions taken to improve their environmental footprint.

The development was welcomed by the Bishop of Norwich and lead bishop on the environment, the Rt Revd Graham Usher. He said: “Having every diocese sign up is a statement of intent from all of us as we take seriously the need to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss today.

“A Rocha UK’s Eco Church and Diocese scheme is a great tool, which enables local churches at every level of their climate justice journey to engage with environmental issues. We know that climate change and biodiversity loss impact us all — especially the world’s poorest countries.

“As Christians, we must make real differences to our lives to care for God’s creation and limit the impact of the climate emergency. This is why it is imperative that we reach net zero carbon across the Church of England by the end of the decade.

“The whole Church is currently looking at our proposed route map to net zero carbon by 2030, and I would encourage everyone to read it and engage with the survey so we can make the journey to net zero carbon together.”

A ROCHA UKGreen initiatives are being developed at Chelmsford Cathedral, including the introduction of Muddy Church  

Eco Church is a free online award scheme run by A Rocha UK in England and Wales. It encourages churches to reduce energy use; protect open space and valuable natural habitats; reduce their contributions to global warming; keep their buildings safe and healthy; lessen pressure on the local water supply; and reduce run-off into local waterways.

The church-relations manager at A Rocha UK, Helen Stephens, said: “At the start of 2022, we all know the scale of the challenges we face to avert catastrophic climate change and the loss of nature — and what’s needed to avert this.

“The steps taken by the dioceses of the Church of England reflect a united commitment to encourage grass-roots action at a parish level.

“As each diocese progresses through the Eco Diocese scheme, more churches will become Eco Churches: a growing church community which cares for creation across all aspects of life; commits dioceses to action towards net zero carbon emissions; and incorporates creation care into ongoing ministerial training.

“We commend all of the dioceses for making this commitment, and look forward to many more award applications as they continue to take action.”

On Monday, an Anglican priest, a Roman Catholic priest, and a retired parole officer all went on trial at Inner London Crown Court for their part in stopping a DLR train at Shadwell Station as part of Extinction Rebellion protests in London in 2019 (News, 25 October 2019).

The Revd Sue Parfitt, aged 79, Fr Martin Newell, 54, and Phil Kingston, 85, all members of Christian Climate Action, took part in the protest to highlight the lack of action being taken on climate change by the Government. They were charged with obstructing trains or carriages on the railway, and were acquitted unanimously by a jury on Friday (14 January).

Holly-Anna Petersen, a member of Christian Climate Action and a mental-health therapist, had said at the start of the trial: “Sacrifice is a core principal of non-violent direct action, and pivotal to change-making. Even knowing this, I’m bowled over by how much these people are willing to put on the line in an effort to prevent climate collapse. Martin, Sue, and Phil stand in court, risking not only prison time, but time away from loved ones, impacts on mental health, and risks to their reputation. Hearing them is such a lesson in how to love more fully.”

The trial followed the acquittal by a jury in December of six people charged with the same offence during an action at Canary Wharf station in April 2019. The DLR “Canaries” argued that their actions were a proportionate and lawful response to the escalating climate crisis.

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