The Church of England has voted overwhelmingly to aim at achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions for its operations by 2030, strengthening an original proposal to reach that target by 2045. The motion called for urgent steps to examine requirements to reach the new target and draw up an action plan.
With the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 set to take place in Glasgow in November, this announcement contributes to boosting momentum for action to tackle the climate crisis by governments and all parts of society and is part of a wider movement by faith groups around the world to take climate action on religious and ethical grounds.
It follows the launch of the Church of England's first ever Green Lent (#LiveLent) campaign for 2020, featuring 40 days of prayers and actions to encourage care for Creation. The Church has also announced an energy footprinting tool for parishes to calculate their carbon footprint.
The Church of England has frequently been outspoken on climate change, including taking a leading role in encouraging energy companies in which it holds shares to disclose more information about the extent of their own emissions.
Joint call by churches and faith-based organizations to divest from fossil fuels
The latest move follows an announcement at the start of the year by 20 Christian organizations in the UK of their intention to divest from fossil fuels as part of the Epiphany Declaration for Fossil Free Churches.
Meanwhile, a joint call has been issued for churches and faith-based organizations around the world to divest from fossil fuel industries. Leading the call is Operation Noah, a Christian charity working with the Church to inspire action on climate change.
The charity is collaborating with the World Council of Churches, the Global Catholic Climate Movement, Green Anglicans and GreenFaith in reaching out to churches, religious orders and Christian organizations of all denominations to invite commitments to fossil fuel divestment.
The call will be formally announced on 26-28 March, coinciding with the Economy of Francesco conference in Assisi, Italy, convened by Pope Francis. The conference will bring together prominent economists and 2,000 young people from around the globe to discuss how to make the economy of today and tomorrow fair, sustainable and inclusive.
Over the years, the World Council of Churches has helped foster a movement for climate justice touching millions of people around the world, including thousands of congregations who rang their bells for fair and ambitious climate action in 2009 and are connected in prayer each year during Time for Creation.