Net-Zero and the Catholic Church: guidelines published

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Guidelines on accounting policies for net zero carbon emissions were published today for the Catholic Church in England and Wales. This “Guide to Carbon Accounting for the Catholic Diocese” is a step-by-step guide specifically for a Catholic diocese and is the second in a series of planned documents for the Guardians of Creation project.

This new document introduces a method to establish a basic carbon footprint to measure progress and provides guidance on setting “net zero” targets. The Diocese of Salford, which has already piloted this process, is estimated to be responsible for the equivalent of fifteen hot air balloons of carbon dioxide per day through the operational use of its buildings alone and is now working on a decarbonization pathway.

Catholic dioceses include churches, schools, orders and associated offices and properties that together have a large carbon footprint. By providing a method of calculating this footprint, a diocese can then develop a reduction plan and prioritize action.

Bishop John Arnold, Senior Bishop for the Environment at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said: “It is encouraging that with the start of COP26 we can demonstrate that we are facing the challenge of reducing our carbon footprint with the publication of these guidelines. We know the situation is urgent and that we all have a responsibility to reduce the effects of climate change on the most vulnerable. I am pleased that this is one of many initiatives the Catholic Church is taking forward in this area and I definitely feel that we are making some progress. “

Last year the dioceses of Plymouth, Westminster and Birmingham announced their CO2 ambitions for 2030. has also launched a new website to help parishes respond to the ecological crisis.

The Guardians of Creation research project is being developed by the Diocese of Salford in collaboration with St. Mary’s University, Twickenham, and the Laudato Si ‘Research Institute, Campion Hall, Oxford. Emma Gardner, Salford Diocese Environmental Director and Guardians of Creation Project Leader, said: “Over the past year we have worked closely with Inter Diocesan Fuel Management and the Tyndall Center at the University of Manchester to understand what emissions a Diocese should use report how much and how quickly we can reduce our carbon footprint. After going through the process ourselves, we hope this guide will make the experience for other Dioceses a lot easier at this critical time. The Diocese of Salford is interested in to work on our next steps and develop a decarbonization plan for the Diocese of Salford. “

The methodology is intended to be applicable to all dioceses, but provides particularly detailed guidance for dioceses in the UK. Roland Daw, Senior Lecturer in Strategy and Entrepreneurship at St. Medium-sized Church Organizations – the Dioceses. So if you want to help the church as a whole decarbonise, you really need to develop an approach that works in all of its parts. We built some flexibility into this method. but there should also be enough common ground so that the dioceses can talk to each other. “

On October 4th, Pope Francis and nearly 40 other religious leaders presented a joint appeal to Alok Sharma, President-elect of COP26, calling on the international community to increase their ambitions in the run-up to COP26. “Future generations will never forgive us if we waste this precious opportunity. We have inherited a garden: we must not leave a desert for our children.” The appeal required signatories to pledge themselves to greater commitment, including “supporting measures to reduce carbon emissions” and creating “bold plans to achieve total sustainability in our buildings, properties, vehicles and other properties”.

Fr Dominic Howarth, Episcopal Vicar for Youth and Pastoral Care and Environmental Director for the Diocese of Brentwood, commented: “The first document came at a time when we were considering our diocesan response; in addition to divesting companies that trade and manufacture fossil fuels, the work of the Guardians of Creation prompted us to begin a systematic, professionally-led review of our entire building inventory to understand the most effective and important ways to decarbonise if we were neither Having come to these conclusions, we could have started implementing them, as their work supports the Catholic Church on a national level in implementing Pope Francis’ appeal in Laudato Si. to ensure our concern for our common home and to live a faithful response to the ‘cry of the earth and the cry of the poor’. We are infinitely grateful for all of this. “

Deborah Fisher, Caritas Manager in the Diocese of Plymouth, commented, “We found the strategy document helpful in clarifying our own considerations on how to deal with a problem that can feel very overwhelming, using this as the basis for a year-long project to base a base to create for our diocese on which we can build concrete measures and plans. “

Barbara Hungin, Diocesan Environmental Director for the Diocese of Middlesbrough, said: “The project of the Guardians of Creation has proven to be of vital importance to the Church at the national level as we look to a response to the encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ by Pope Francis and focus on the current climate crisis. The Diocese of Middlesbrough recently created a new “Buildings and Environment Verifier” position and the Decarbonization Strategy document has proven to be an important blueprint for the future. It was sent to all respondents and will be one of the founding documents for the new employees. “

Read the full document here:
www.stmarys.ac.uk/research/areas/theology-and-ethics/guardians-of-creation/resources.aspx

Keywords: COP26, Net Zero, Bishop John Arnold

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