What is the diocese doing to help prevent climate change?

We talk to Helen Groocock about what the Diocese of Coventry is doing to help reach the Church of England's net zero target. 

What is your role?

I work for the Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF) as the Governance, Risk & Environment Adviser.  This includes co-ordinating the diocesan response to the Church of England 2030 net zero target.  A key element of this is overseeing energy reporting and the calculation of our diocesan carbon footprint, including submission of parish energy data to the Energy Footprint Tool (EFT).  The scope and challenge of the net zero target is broad, and so is the role.  Some days involve working with the Net Zero Steering Group on our overall action plan, some days involve providing updates to Bishop’s Council and the Bishop’s Strategy Integration Group, and some days involve researching options for plastic-free toilet roll supplies for the diocesan office!

Why is there a need for action?

Much work on environmental matters is seen under the banner of the fifth mark of mission‘to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth’.  It’s clear that many of the world’s poorest populations and least resilient areas suffer the worst of the effects of climate change.  Acknowledging the reality of climate change and adapting our own behaviour to reduce it is therefore also a response to the third and fourth marks of mission: ‘to respond to human need by loving service’ and ‘to transform unjust structures of society.’  In order to respond faithfully to the call to ‘proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom’ and ‘teach, baptise and nurture new believers’ we must be doing all we can to ensure that our way of life is not at the expense of the very survival of others.

Bishop Christopher’s vision for the whole diocese is that we will be bearers of life.  A fundamental part of this is renewed relationships, including renewing how we care for creation both locally and globally.

What is the diocese doing to help prevent climate change?

Diocesan Synod (the ‘parliament’ of the diocese) is committed to the need for action on climate change and in 2021 adopted a high-level strategy - Pathway to Net Zero - which outlines a roadmap of where we are, where we need to get to and how we propose to get there.  A more detailed net zero action plan, including an estimate of the costs involved, will be taken to Diocesan Synod in November this year.

There’s a lot of activity underway across the diocese in each of the in-scope focus areas (churches, schools, clergy housing, the Cathedral, offices and work-related travel).  We’ve recently updated the Church Improvement Fund to include a specific net zero strand and churches can now apply for up to £25k towards sustainability improvements.  Applications have already been received for solar panels, under-pew heating and heat pumps.

We’re looking at how best to reduce the carbon footprint of all our vicarages (around 160 houses).  Some pilot works will be taking place this year and we should have a costed implementation plan in place by the end of the year.

We’re also maintaining a focus on Eco Church, this is a great way for parishes to understand their environmental impact and begin to make changes.  Coventry received an Eco Diocese bronze award in 2019 and are now actively working towards silver.

There’s a network of Deanery Environmental Reps across the diocese who are working with parishes in their deaneries to provide support, including help with Eco Church registration and EFT submissions.

Our Sustainable Travel Policy was introduced in 2022 and we continue to look at ways to reduce the impact of travel such as encouraging lift-sharing, planning events at locations that can be accessed via public transport, and making use of online meeting facilities where appropriate.

There’s an ongoing drive to raise awareness and understanding of climate change and of the Church of England’s net zero target.  This includes the revised Creation Care BCDM module, provision of worship resources and promotion of Creationtide events.

There’s a real mix of actions happening ranging from long-term, complex projects (such as looking at the potential for renewable energy generation on diocesan buildings and land) to smaller quick-wins (such as switching the diocesan office energy tariffs and moving to a Default Veg position for most meetings).  The scale of the net zero 2030 target can seem daunting but there are practical actions that each individual and church can take to make a difference.

How can people get involved in their churches?

Eco Church is a great place to start.  Check if your church is registered and if it already has an award.  Working through the Eco Church checklists can help churches make the changes needed to reduce their environmental impact.

Parishes can receive a free energy audit from Green Journey which will include basic recommendations on energy efficiency improvements.  More detailed energy audits can also be purchased via Parish Buying.

Parishes looking to move to renewable energy tariffs can access the Parish Buying Energy Basket.

There’s a wealth of information available from the Church of England’s Environment Programme including case studies and practical guidance, prayer and worship resources and links to their hugely helpful webinar series.

Submitting energy use data for your church (via the EFT) helps us to build an accurate picture of the diocesan carbon footprint and of the impact of the reduction measures being implemented.  It also helps us to focus resources where the biggest changes can be made.  The deadline for 2022 EFT data submission is 31 July 2023.

We’d like every church to appoint a Care of Creation Champion.  This volunteer role encourages the church to take relevant action to ensure environmentally responsible use of church buildings and land, helps build community engagement and acts as a vital link between parishes, deanery and the diocese. 


If you’re interested in becoming a Care of Creation Champion, or would like help or advice on Eco Church, EFT, Green Journey or any other environmental issues please contact helen.groocock@coventry.anglican.org or our Diocesan Environment Officer godfrey.armitage@coventry.anglican.org

First published on: 19th April 2023
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