Why the Church of England’s decision for Net Zero 2030 is wrong.

Why Net Zero 2030 is doomed to failure and despair

2030
Summary; The Church of England has entered discussions on Net Zero for Carbon. At the meeting of General Synod on 12 February 2020 as proposal for the church to be Net zero by 2045 was rejected and Net Zero 2035 was narrowly passed.
If carried out, this will be extremely expensive and bankrupt some local churches. Further those who proposed this did not consider either the implications or how it can be implemented.
Here I argue it is fundamentally wrong, and no more than virtue signalling.

When I first heard of Global Warming (before its name change to Climate Change) in about 1990 I was sceptical. This was just two years after James Hansen’s warning of danger in the USA. My reasons were geological or rather glaciological. I was aware how the earth’s temperature had fluctuated with glaciations in the Precambrian, Ordovician, Permian and Pleistocene. I have worked on the Precambrian (600my) glaciation and the latest ones ending 10,000 years ago. I was also aware of historical fluctuations with the Little Ice Age and the warming since about 1810, which I found apparent when walking in the Alps, especially the recent retreat of glaciers. Thus I was fully aware how the earth’s temperature had fluctuated for the last billion years.

It took until 1998 when Sir John Houghton personally convinced me what was happening. I later wrote a survey of evangelical responses to Climate Change up to 2010. By then I was convinced of the seriousness of Climate Change and that we should change our energy use among many other things in the future. Ironically I finished that chapter on April Fool’s Day 2011, the day a Mag 2.3 tremor occurred at Cuadrilla’s fracking site in Lancashire. I never felt it though I was only 10 miles away, but it changed my outlook.

Soon afterwards an election leaflet was delivered by a certain political party to our house. I liked all the suggestions on better cycle routes etc and I decided to vote for them, until I read the risible comments on the risk of damage from earthquakes. From a position of being hostile to fracking I started to study it carefully and found that claims by anti-frackers were fallacious. I also found that Christian green groups were simply repeating them as Gospel and had no wish to listen to the science! Outside the churches the two worst offenders for misinformation were Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace, as FoE found out to their embarrassment in early 2017.

It was clear that green groups were singing from the same hymn book with anti-fracking, anti-GMO, anti-nuclear along with a blind faith in renewables as the cure for everything energy wise. They also took the most extreme and apocalyptic understanding of climate change.  As the decade progressed the evils of fossil fuels and divestment came to the fore, but this was not accompanied with a presentation of what alternatives should be used, nor with a partiality to precision. Few acknowledged the intermittency of renewables, highlighted on 23/1/20 when lack of sun and wind resulted in little energy from renewables (see below). With an almost sectarian zeal any who did not accept this outlook were dismissed as a climate denier and thus the way was opened for Extinction Rebellion in late 2018. Green groups were clear what they were against – fossil fuels (and often nuclear) – but did not provide an alternative, except simplistic appeals to renewables. The actual aim is better seen in the anticapitalism which marks such activists as Naomi Klein or Extinction Rebellion.

To get back the General Synod resolution. The government target of Net Zero 2050 is, in fact, ambitious and unless new techniques of energy production or carbon capture are developed, very hard to fulfil. The aim of Net Zero 2025 by Extinction Rebellion is simply absurd and impossible to fulfil without killing lots of people through hypothermia.  The target of 2045 is more challenging than realistic, but could be doable for the church, because so many aspects of energy in industry are not considered. However the amendment from Bristol Diocese for Net Zero 2030 is beyond absurd. It is clear that the implication were not thought out, whether practical details or cost. On paper it could possibly be done, as the church could opt to use only renewables, but the cost is prohibitive and my rough calculation  of moving over with a considerable use of heat pumps is –

A backofenvelope calculation is that cost for my diocese -Blackburn would be £15 million and thus £600 million for the whole Church of England. That is each parish must raise extra £8000 p.a or £160 per week .

One could quibble over details but this is the right order of the financial implications. I look forward to this being sent to the parishes by the various Diocesan Boards of Finance!

And so the amendment was passed for 2030;

“The rest of the morning session was devoted to a debate on the Climate Emergency and Carbon Reduction Target. The motion as originally proposed was amended, most significantly when “2045 at the latest” in paragraph (a) was replaced by “2030”. This amendment was quite narrowly carried by 144 votes to 129 with 10 recorded abstentions. At the end of the debate, the amended motion below was carried on a show of hands.

Here is the amendment;

That this Synod, recognising that the global climate emergency is a crisis for God’s creation, and a fundamental injustice, and following the call of the Anglican Communion in ACC Resolutions A17.05 and A17.06;

(a) call upon all parts of the Church of England, including parishes, BMOs, education institutions, dioceses, cathedrals and the NCIs, to work to achieve year-on-year reductions in emissions and urgently examine what would be required to reach net zero emissions by 2030 in order that a plan of action can be drawn up to achieve that target;

(b) request reports on progress from the Environment Working Group and the NCIs every 3 years beginning in 2022 and;

(c) call on each Diocesan Synod and cathedral Chapter to address progress toward net zero emissions every 3 years.”

The account on the  CoE website

https://www.churchofengland.org/more/media-centre/news/general-synod-sets-2030-net-zero-carbon-target

 

The Bishop of Manchester expressed his unease at the way the motion was got through.

https://viamedia.news/2020/02/14/general-synod-the-highs-lows/

I’d hoped the Environment debate would be a highlight, and in some ways it was. We heard passionate pleas for the Church to work to eliminate its carbon footprint. My one speech in the chamber this time was to support an amendment from the chair of the Finance Committee to set up the structures we will need to produce robust intermediate targets, identify specific solutions and oversee the work well. The crucial issue of selecting the year by which all this will be achieved was moved from a perhaps under-ambitious 2045 to a date of 2030. Whatever ones views on the urgency of the climate crisis, it felt unsatisfactory that this was achieved through an amendment which was decided after less than ten minutes debate, by a majority of 15, with a turnout that meant fewer than a third of Synod members voted in favour of it. Many, I suspect, were caught in the tea room, not having expected a close vote. 2030 maybe the right year, but the process felt flawed.

Perhaps a 2/3rds majority was needed………

The case for a 2045 target was laid down in  GS 2159 1

GENERAL SYNOD CLIMATE EMERGENCY AND CARBON REDUCTION TARGET

https://www.churchofe20Climatengland.org/sites/default/files/2020-01/GS%202159%%20Emergency%20and%20Carbon%20Reduction%20Target.pdf

It would be difficult to object to the general tenor of this report, unless one had no concern for the environment, which is to devalue God’s creation. However, it does reflect the general weakness of most recent Christian thought on the environment, in that it is weak on energy and mineral resources, with a tendency to appeal to renewables as a panacea and an implicit disdain for mining. Of course, those like Naomi Klein would agree as this is to reject all forms of “extractivism”. The term is pejorative and prevents one from seeing how much of everything in life is dependent on what has been extracted from the ground. Apart from food, most things we use have been extracted; fossil fuels, Uranium for nuclear, clay, gravel and stone for construction, every metal from Iron to Aluminium to rare Earths and Lithium which are needed for electronics and batteries.

My eco-friendly bicycles, which cover 4,500 miles, a year, are made as a result of “extractivism”; frame – mostly aluminium, fork – Carbon-fibre (very energy intensive), tyres –from petroleum, most parts are from a mixture of plastics, metals etc all from the ground. So my bicycles are dependant of fossil fuels! But the saddle is made of leather!

This “ethical” disdain of “extractivism” is apparent in the Church Times brief statement of Bishop Urquhart;

The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Revd David Urquhart, has said that the Church Commissioners chose to invest in mining, despite the ethical considerations, because “it is important for everyone on the planet.”

Church Times 14/2/20

Ultimately mining and quarrying are messy businesses. They cannot be anything else·. But then so is farming, forestry and house building. Having worked half a century ago for an international mining company in various parts of Africa I saw the mess. One of the great concerns are tailings dams, but in Uganda I lived a few hundred yards from two, which were just above a river in the Ruwenzori mountains, which flowed into a National Park. The water below the dams looked pristine and pure.

Surely there are ethical considerations of any investment in any industry?  Mining when uncontrolled is awful, but that was not my experience of most mines I visited. However I was concerned when I visited an opencast Wolfram Mine in Uganda as there seemed to be no procedure, safety or otherwise, in place. At the time I thought it a cowboy outfit in contrast to my company, of which I was often critical.

Perhaps a cause of the Bishop’s disdain, which reflects that of most Green groups, Christian or not, is that it shows a simplistic green outlook, which does not grasp that all human activities are in some way polluting.  Hence there is a tendency for a kneejerk reaction regarding all mining and fossil fuels as unethical. For energy the “ethical” response is renewables, but then failing to ask where all the materials to make them come from. Some responses are examples of the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

It makes me wonder whether I should admit that before ordination I worked in mining and whether I should repent of having been in mining!

From GS2159

Summary There is a climate crisis; indeed, a crisis for creation. Our response is driven by our call to mission, specifically to the fifth mark of mission. This motion encourages all parts of the Church of England to recognise this and to take coordinated action toward a target of Net Zero by 2045. The urgency and significance of climate change and the degradation of the environment cannot be over-estimated. The Church of England’s Environment Working Group (set up by General Synod in 2014) issued a Call for Action1 in November 2019, and this motion follows from that call.   “It becomes ever clearer that climate change is the greatest challenge that we and future generations face. It’s our sacred duty to protect the natural world we’ve so generously been given, as well as our neighbours around the world who will be first and worst affected. Without swift decisive action the consequences of climate change will be devastating.” Archbishop Justin Welby

 

Background 1. The recent International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warned that humanity has 11 years to take emergency action in order to prevent global heating greater than 1.5°C 2. Above this, the risks to humanity of floods, droughts, extreme heat and poverty become much greater, impacting on hundreds of millions more people. Increasingly, the national discourse is one of climate emergency and climate crisis.

The report gives five possible targets; the first is the 2009 church one, which as they say is passe. The other two align with the government at 2050 and the Climate Coalition at 2045.  Both are hard but in the realms of possibility . The government one is also politically acceptable, even if grudgingly.

Here are possible targets from the Government’s 2050 to Extinction Rebellion’s 2025;

20452

Both the targets of 2050 and 2045 are sensible, and it is understandable that the Climate Coalition as an activist group should go for an earlier date.

However after the decision for 2030 the response of Christian members of the Climate Coalition raises questions. It does seem that they prefer 2030 and also support Extinction Rebellion.

Thus the response on Twitter and elsewhere on 12th February;

12/2/20 from JRI “Well done to @synod on going for the 2030 target. It is NOT going to be at all easy, and it will cost a lot of money, but it is the right thing to do.”

Andy Lester A Rocha “a positive message from CofE…we will need to keep some pressure on to make sure there is a genuine delivery alongside the genuine intent.”

https://www.tearfund.org/en/media/press_releases/tearfund_reacts_to_church_of_england_2030_net_zero_commitment/

Valerio from Tear Fund ““The church must continue to take courageous steps to cut its carbon emissions ensuring it reaches net zero as soon as possible, protecting the world’s most vulnerable people and the wider natural world.”

https://operationnoah.org/news-events/press-release-operation-noah-welcomes-church-of-england-decision-to-set-2030-net-zero-target/

Green Anglicans on FB 13/2/20 The Church of England takes a prophetic stand and commits to net zero in ten years

Congratulations!!!

I wonder how much behinds the scenes lobbying went on.

The paper pushes for more than 2050 and explains why a 2045 target is essential. When you take into account that the Church of England is a limited body – no attached industry! – 2045 is similar in challenge to the Government’s 2050.

20453

This is a very balanced argument for 2045 with a serious warning of aiming too high i.e 2030

2045 is achievable but hard; it is a possible target, which, most importantly, should get most on board.  It is vital to get almost everyone in the church on board, as even a small opposition group could derail the whole process.

2030 is set to fail. This is mostly because it is an impossible target as Bishop Holtam said in a veiled way. It is already getting a lot of criticism both from naysayers and others. It will attract a lot of tabloid attack, as well as losing allies. It will be unsellable to most PCCs.

I consider that it is a sad day for church. Whereas the original motion would have been tough, even if not enough for some, but going for 2030 will result in a serious loss of support, which will result in abject failure and then no chance of achieving 2030.

Getting all on board for 2045 would need much effort and persuasion and from experience I know that many PCCs would simply disregard it as something else from the “diocese”,  and then scoffed at and dismissed.

The target 2030 is far more challenging than 2045 with an immediate high financial commitment. I wonder whether all clergy would push for it as the cost becomes clear.

There are other concerns. There is a danger of a negative press (as clergy are often warned about!). Those church members who can be seen as “passive uncommitted” will reject 2030 and becoming vocal and stroppy, but would have gone along with 2045. This is absolutely vital as wither motion depends on parish and PCC support to have a chance of success.

The target of 2030 breaks any coalition of environmentally minded, as it only appeals to the left of environmentally minded Christians. Some will go into opposition and refuse to support 2030 in any shape or form.

I feel this is the worst kind of virtue signalling , which is going to cause major problems for the Church of England.

Were I still a vicar I’d simply refuse to take part.

 

This recent article by Peter Franklin outlines the range of views on the environment.

https://unherd.com/2020/02/bigger-than-brexit-the-new-politics-of-climate-change/?=frbottom&fbclid=IwAR0vGsA1Qnn3VsII1hN0Kp_vhs7eiu8FJQ8L0aCqCI4GFqc1PmCPfzsQ8DQ

It is a provocative article and stresses how we are divided between the Climate Left and the Climate Right

The Climate Left are dominated by Extinction Rebellion and their calls for Citizens Assemblies and System Change – yes, they are anti-capitalist and anti a few other things. It is hard not to see Christian Greens as aligned to them and Christian Climate Action most clearly is. The Climate Right, so often called Climate Deniers, are a varied bunch and thrive by picking holes (an easy task) in the Climate Left, and how costly even Net Zero in 2050 would be. One figure is £3 trillion. I would suggest neither the Climate Left or Climate Right have much to offer, and I find neither very constructive.

As Peter Franklin writes, “So, if the climate Left is mad and the climate Right is bad, then we desperately need an alternative to both. This is provided by the Climate Centre.

Climate centrism takes the science seriously — enough not to indulge in scare tactics or to pretend that business-as-usual is a responsible option. It rejects the accelerated timelines demanded by green new dealers, not because action isn’t required, but because haste makes waste. Achieving net zero in the space of a single decade would divert scarce resources into the creation of a command state, when what we need is more of what’s been achieved so far through competitive markets supported by smart government.”

This century the governments have been a snail’s pace Climate Centre, and have made many advances which are denied by the Left. Who in 2000, and even more so in 1990, would have thought coal has become almost redundant for electricity generation? Neither Delingpole nor Monbiot did that! Being of a certain age I have witnessed environmental changes for over half a century, including the last pea-souper of 1963 which stopped just short of our house. It has been loss and gain and definitely far better than the Climate Left claim. In the 70s and 80s any environmentalist was a bit of a nutter!! I was the green nutter then!

To return to the General Synod support of Net Zero 2030. This is very clearly of the Climate Left, as that seems to dominate Christian discussions on the environment. Few Anglicans would dare to admit they were on the Climate Right or even Centre, and us climate Centrists are often either silent by nature or muted. Perhaps more will come out when the implications of Net Zero 2030 become apparent.

The proposal from Bishop Holtam was much more central and with a target date of 2045 was more or less achievable. It also had the virtue of including many more supporters –  including the semi-committed who probably make up the bulk of the Church of England. Further it was a narrow vote and some were distinctly unhappy about the result. For this vote a 2/3rds majority should have been required in each house as the matter is of such importance.

The amendment was very much in line with groups like Christian Climate Change, and thus Extinction Rebellion who call a nationwide Net Zero by 2025. These are groups are clear in what they oppose and see a grim future. They also throw in anti-capitalism with appeals for a system change. However like many protest groups they are good at calling things out and stating what they want, but totally fall short on how to achieve it.

As well as involving political compromise a plan for achieving Net Zero, whether in 2030 , 2045 or 2050, must go beyond wishing it and actually giving detailed plans on all the technological issues along with costings. There needs to be plans on how to discard all fossil fuel heating in churches, vicarages and schools and how to provide a suitable replacement. My observation is that activists groups like those mentioned, whether Christian or secular are highly skilled at rhetoric, repeating simple appeals to be renewable, but do not have the engineering grasp or knowledge to begin to effect it. Here those actually knowledgeable, with a few exceptions, realise it is a long and slow process and that even 2050 is a tall order. Even worse, they realise that fossil fuels will still be need at mid-century.

Too often the climate Left resort to scaremongering https://www.forbes.com/sites/rogerpielke/2019/09/26/its-time-to-get-real-about-the-extreme-scenario-used-to-generate-climate-porn/#75a19d7c4af0

There were several reports in the Church Times for 21st February. First is a general report https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2020/21-february/comment/opinion/net-zero-carbon-by-2030-is-do-able

Bishop Holtam was mentioned in a report but Canon Martin Gainsborough, who moved the crucial General Synod amendment, explains his hopes in an article. Nowhere does he consider the cost implications and difficulties that any parishes will face, beyond saying it “require a significant injection of money” (I suggest nearly half a billion pounds), but instead gives bland advice on what can be done to start;

“The charity Climate Stewards recommends six steps that churches can take to lower their emissions: carrying out a carbon-footprint audit and reducing emissions where you can; switching to a green energy supplier; registering for the A Rocha Eco Church scheme; joining in with the LiveLent campaign; engaging with your diocesan advisory committee; and offsetting unavoidable emis­sions. (The point about net zero is that it allows for some offsetting.)”

Apart from the first, which would make you look hard at energy use and “other carbon use” none will reduce emissions. If a church, or family or other group, has already been frugal and looked to waste it will have already reduced emissions. Obviously there will always be room for improvement. (I would argue that every individual or organisation should being doing this continually, whether on direct use of fuel or embedded use. I do.) His article may convince the faithful, but not the hard-headed grounded in the reality of delivering technical solutions.

Gainsborough has not convinced me that it is do-able. His article was far more wishful thinking than giving any real idea how Net Zero 2030 could be achieved. What was needed was to explain the steps and the costings. It seems that the amendment was brought to General Synod without considering either. That is not a responsible way of doing things.

**********************************************

Appendix

Some comments on Bishop Holtam’s General Synod paper GS 2159.

I’ve picked out a few sections which raise important aspects .

  1. We are now in a position where we could, with the right encouragement, and with no less than the current national resources and funding as well as strong support at diocesan and local levels, make great progress. It is important both to achieve net zero carbon emissions in the long term, and to make early and significant reductions in the amount of CO2 we produce.

The concept of Net Zero is not always helpful as it does not consider Carbon (in fact Carbon Dioxide) emissions for things other than energy. Many items are made using coal or petroleum , for example these from Natural Gas

20454

These are often overlooked in the wish to be Carbon-free.

As well as that there is the energy used in manufacture, which is often left out of the equation.

One aspect overlooked is the energy used for making many products from bricks to paper. This makes Net Zero almost impossible to achieve, unless products made with non-fossil fuel energy can be sourced. This is taken from the late Paul Younger’s wonderful book “Energy”. Paul, a Christian, died tragically young two years ago.

20455

In fact, almost all the materials we use rely on Carbon, either in their make-up or their preparation. As we get to 2030 should we only use bricks, concrete, paint etc which are Carbon-neutral? That was not considered.

I shall resist the temptation of suggesting our diets go Carbon-free.

  1. To achieve a net zero target much would need to happen, including, as examples,

the following;

  1. a) Energy use for heating and lighting would need to radically reduce in all our

buildings, through, for example, the installation of LED lighting where not yet in

place, extensive programmes of draught-proofing and insulation.

Many of these have been encouraged for years, especially on an individual level. We have been using low-energy bulbs since 1986. LEDs will only make a minute contribution compared to what is needed.

We need to start with the following

  • Woolly jumpers (serious suggestion!)
  • Thick socks
  • Heavy curtains where possible
  • Draught-proofing
  • Lowering ceilings
  • Insulation
  • Trees and shrubs in the built environment to reduce windchill of buildings

If people insist on wearing summer clothes in winter, they’ll either feel cold or switch up the heating!

They mere fact that these have been listed shows how far as a nation we have not come. Most have been around for decades and many of us have followed them.

 

  1. b) The heating of our 16000 churches, 4700 schools, clergy housing and diocesan

offices would need to move away from gas and oil, to electric heating powered

by green electricity and focussing more on heating people rather than heating

spaces.

The Key Flaw is that it rejects gas and oil, and probably nuclear, in the energy mix. (Many Greens today reject nuclear as strongly as fossil fuels.) Most forecasts for future energy supply include fossil fuels at least up to 2050. It also overlooks the fact that heating by electricity is the most expensive form of heating. All serious (non-doctrinaire green) scenarios include gas to 2050 unless dictated by ideological or political concerns

This also ignores oil, gas and coal as source of materials – not just plastic. Further coal is necessary for some industrial processes. Of course new methods will come in, but there is a considerable time lag from discovery, through development to delivery.

I am puzzling how to heat people not spaces, as the only way is heated clothing!!!  As it is February we have the heat on (gas) with thermostat to 20 deg. The house is cool warm! I am wearing a fleece, thick socks and feel a trifle cool. For me a few more degrees is too warm. I am also fairly cold-resistant. To have the air temperature of 10 deg or less is too cold for most people to sit around or work at a desk. It is also dangerous for the sick and elderly. The older you get the less you can withstand cold, as I have found out!

500 years ago many wore hats in the house and probably gloves. Gloves would prevent manual tasks. If too cold one needs gloves! This I found out on Seatsandle in the Lake District in the snow. I was warm but eating sandwiches with bare hands in subzero temperatures was painful.

This statement assumes plentiful, reliable and non-intermittent green energy, but at present renewables produces about a third of electricity demand and has a totally intermittent nature. Thus on 23/1/20 renewables were producing less than 10% of electricity but in the February storms it has shot up to nearly 50%. Economical battery storage on a large scale is not yet available. Further present batteries lose 20% of electricity on storage.

It also overlooks the fact that if we move from fossil fuels to electric then the grid must provide THREE TIMES the present electricity i.e tripling power stations and grid networks.  But that excludes other uses of energy in transport and industry. When you factor that in, you need another THREE TIMES as much energy  – thus to replace fossil fuels we need to increase energy from other sources TEN FOLD.

This wouldn’t really apply to the church, but to go totally electric many of our buildings would have to have a major upgrade of electrical circuits.

A very useful site  is https://gridwatch.co.uk/ And its twitter feed. To take an example take the details on 14/2/20 .These show immense variation from various fuel sources, with renewables being yo-yos and gas used to make up the shortfall

20456

Grey is nuclear which is constant. Blue is wind and orange is gas. When wind is insufficient gas (orange) is ramped up. At night gas is used less due to a lower demand, but when there is no wind, gas comes in as it did round 23rd January where there was  virtually nothing as no wind or sun.

But with the February storms there was a lot of wind power, with winds of 25-30 mph and stronger gusts. (I won’t go out on my bike!). But if the winds are too strong as it was on 15/2/20 wind Turbines were only operating at 50% capacity because of 80 mph winds, meaning they needed to be feathered back.

The concern over fossil fuels often ignores the drop of emissions in the developed world, which are declining this decade but rising elsewhere.

20457

And the change in 2018-9. (Japan’s reduction would be greater if they had not rejected nuclear.)20458I’ve left out clothes, and many long-term use of petroleum-based materials:i.e not single use plastics.

This pie chart from 2019 shows UK emissions in comparison to the rest of the world. Note UK population is 70 million and China 1,400 million i.e 20x greater, but Chinese emissions per capita are higher as are USA, Canada and Germany. So far reduction in emissions is limited to “Western” countries, but many Africans have no access to energy. (I am baffled why Christian Aid opposes any development of drilling for oil and gas in Africa. If nothing else it would slow deforestation.)

20458

Now what about Costs?

Heat pumps £6,000-£18.000  https://www.evergreenenergy.co.uk/heat-pumps/much-heat-pump-cost/

Solar  https://www.evergreenenergy.co.uk/heat-pumps/much-heat-pump-cost/

Need 4K/W for an average house – £4,000-£6,000 but a vicarage is larger. Let’s call it £10K

The cost for a church or school is far more and in the order of £20K.

Now that would put up Parish Share for each parish!

One aspect overlooked, and mentioned above, is the energy used for making many products from bricks to paper. This makes Net Zero almost impossible to achieve, unless products made with non-fossil fuel energy can be sourced.

 

  1. c) This would in turn require the church’s electrical supplies to be robust enough to

support electric heating, and the National Grid to support this increased

electrical loading.

How’s this going to happen?

The National Grid is not up to electrification of heat and transport. We need a doubling or tripling of generation and grid network, if this is for the whole nation.

To move to 100% electricity for heating in building would require major rewiring. To give an example, in one church in about 2004, the cost was prohibitive just to improve the wiring to install brighter lighting. If I remember right the figure was over £5K as opposed for a few hundred to ensure just adequate lighting. For financial reasons we ended up with lighting which was only just adequate. As that church was in the middle of a field oil heating was the only option.

  1. d) The travel and transport of staff and volunteers would need to move away from petrol/diesel powered vehicles (even in our rural dioceses).

There is no mention of bicycles for local journeys.  Why shouldn’t clergy use cycles around the parish? I can ask this question rather smugly as I often did. I reckon bikes are ideal in a parish and very evangelistic. You can actually stop. As a result of that several people started to come to my various churches.

Again there is a cost consideration. Apart from the tiny Twizzy there is no EV below £17,000  https://www.autoexpress.co.uk/best-cars/99735/the-cheapest-electric-cars-on-sale  but you can buy a Dacia for £7000!!

Further EVs are not in the breakthrough stage and carbon benefits are not clarified as much carbon emissions occur in manufacture, not to mention mining for electrical components which are more than a hunk of steel /alloy for the engine. But you never know when the change will come. After all, Randolph Churchill ridiculed electric lighting but within ten years it had taken off. 

  1. e) We would need to think about our international travel, recognising that there are

very strong connections with the rest of the world but also developing ways of

nurturing those relationships which are more sustainable, and offsetting flights

when necessary.

Most don’t travel by air except for holidays. Perhaps the church should limit frequent fliers, including bishops!!

  1. In addition to carbon output, we must also protect and enhance biodiversity across

our land and buildings, including churchyards, glebe land, and investment assets.

The Church needs to build ecological awareness into everything we do. Caring for

creation is an essential element of our mission and ministry.

This is very much needed, but is inhibited by inertia and a desire for tidiness. Many parishes are more concerned with a tidy churchyard than a green one. I will never forget a farmer churchwarden going around a churchyard spraying every wild-flower with roundup.

There is a tremendous amount that could be done on church land in the way of planting, and to encourage all churchmembers to do the same.

An inspirational read on this is;

204510

It gives lots of fun and hope.

My own brief case for the Christian and the environment, written as a beginners’ article

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/gods-creation-and-the-environment/

2 thoughts on “Why the Church of England’s decision for Net Zero 2030 is wrong.

  1. Paul Braterman

    My own view (and I know this is as an outsider) is that it is not the Church’s role to decide policy on highly complex technical matters. Action is necessary. Decisions are needed. Those decisions must be taken on the merits, which depend on matters where the Church has no relevant expertise.

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    Reply

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