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The churches and the climate

Several Sidmouth churches are partners in the CAPS project – the Sid Valley Mission Community (Anglican), Primley United Reformed Church and The Most Precious Blood (Catholic) – and others will hopefully be joining anon.

For some time now, the Sidmouth churches have been active with the Our Fragile Earth programme, with an excellent overview of how to understand, approach and act on the issues from a Christian perspective.

And last March, the churches hosted the “Change for Good” event which brought together parishioners, citizens and key stakeholders in looking at how to live better on our fragile earth.

The Christian and faith communities of the Sid Valley are of course part of an even wider community. Also last year, there was a magnificent exhibition at Exeter Cathedral on the world and the changing climate, in the Gazing at Gaia installation.

Gaia – installation by Luke Jerram at Exeter Cathedral – Gazing at Gaia

And, indeed, the Anglican Diocese of Exeter has a very active Net Zero Carbon Officer, namely Sophie Phillips, who has got in touch with CAPS to say:

We’ve set a 2030 90% carbon reduction target for activities in our direct control – offices, clergy housing and business travel. We have a Net Zero Action Plan, and the CofE has the National Routemap to Net Zero 2030. And are working to use all our available resources to help churches and schools also reduce their carbon footprints. So we are auditing our churches and developing pilot grant schemes to help them get stuff installed. It’s a fabric first, heat the people approach – unless churches are used daily when heating the whole space becomes a better solution.

Schools are very complex, but we’re doing as much as we can have very limited influence over most CofE schools – so we’re supporting nationally-led initiatives as far as possible. We’d love for schools to get Heat Decarbonisation Plans and then be able to apply for public sector funding to install measures.

There is masses of technical advice and support available within the CofE. £190m allocated for 2023-2031 for Net Zero across the whole CofE.

Due to my previous role in South Dartmoor Community Energy, I’m keen to encourage more connections between churches and community climate action and sustainability groups – you are doing an awesome job at this thank you!! And also that churches can signpost to fuel poverty and retrofit advice services (from the community energy groups  – Exeter Community Energy in your patch) for local householders, and also hold drop in clinics to help local people find info and access services.

I also want to make sure we’re using our voice, so I am trying to coordinate responses to consultations. We’ve managed to engage in a couple of low carbon travel related consultations.

And finally, if there are willing volunteers time and energy, please encourage them to contact their local Anglican churches and offer their help. Due to the level of support available, often it’s a lack of people resource that holds a church back. So helping a church decarbonise could be a good outlet for someone who wants to make a difference!