Deanery Environment Group Reports

Deanery Environment Group 13 July 2020 by Zoom

Present : Margaret Price; Jane Johnson; Paddy Crossley; Alan Hake

Apologies : Chris Irish, Sarah Sigsworth; Michael Wansborough has resigned for personal reasons

Note - Deanery Synod members are up for re-election at your next Annual Parochial Church Council (APCM) .  I hope that even if you do not intend to stand again, that you will be willing to continue as members of this group 

  1. Update on national CoE work to help CoE reach net zero carbon by 2030

Margaret had sent out a variety of documents and briefly reviewed them

CoE General Synod in February 2020 approved a motion to achieve ‘net zero carbon’ by 2030 across the Church of England -

Scope includes churches, church land, church houses, central offices, cathedrals, Voluntary Aided Schools.

‘carbon’ is short for all the greenhouse gases including methane

‘net zero carbon’ aims to reduce carbon output from all sources as far as possible (eg switch to renewable energy, solar panels, building modifications such as lighting and insulation etc) and then offset the remaining carbon by eg tree planting.  End result - CoE not adding anything extra to carbon in atmosphere.

National CoE team - Catherine Ross of Church and Cathedral Buildings and Joe Chamberlain National Environment Officer - have been working hard over the last few months to work out how this can be achieved:

  • Clear definition of ‘net zero carbon’ so that all Dioceses (and their churches, schools, housing etc) measure in exactly the same way- this will allow numerical analysis of progress each year from now to 2030 and ensuring participation of all.

  • Webinars to help Dioceses and their churches get going :

    • Building your Diocesan team - commitment from high level decision makers

    • Action Planning - steps for communication, measurement and action

    • Vision of a zero carbon church building

    • Defining and measuring ‘net zero carbon’

  • What does this mean for us and our churches?

    • Using the ‘online Parish Returns’ system to input annually the church’s energy bills (gas, oil, electricity etc).  From this the Energy Efficiency Calculator will give the amount of carbon produced. From this 2 energy efficiency scores will be produced , one based on building size, one based on attendance.  (I am unclear as to when and how account is taken of energy generation by solar panels - I need to find out MP Try this out with the person at your church who completes the online Parish Return

    • Use the ‘practical path to net zero for our Churches’ for guidance as to the steps that can be taken to reduce these energy efficiency scores and reach net zero carbon eg improve insulation, switch to LED lighting etc.  Go through this document with the person who leads on buildings at your church - probably one of the churchwardens - your church will probably have taken some of the actions - other actions will need PCC approval and may need a Faculty.

    • Offset the remaining carbon output by eg tree planting to absorb CO2 and increase O2.  This can be done through a charity such as Climate Stewards ( or a local Woodlands Trust (research suggests that the average smallish church may need to plant 7 trees a year).  This will need PCC understanding and agreement and modelling into annual budgets

  • What does this mean for the Deanery?  The Diocese has just appointed Revd Jan Nobel as ‘Green Ambassador’.  He should be developing a communication/training programme on this, but locally Easingwold Deanery should run some information/ training events to explain why, what, how, when.  A substantial item on the Deanery Synod in January and then more focussed evening events for specialist people - Churchwardens, Treasurers and Clergy.  Do members of this group feel able to offer their help as ‘advisers’ within their Benefices?

  1.  Eco Church - what is the programme and do we think our churches could be interested?

  • Those at the meeting were lukewarm, however I later learnt that Chris Irish together with Curate Revd Katharine McBride at Strensall are considering applying for the Bronze level award.  So they may be able to pioneer the way for other churches to follow.
  • The group at the meeting felt overcome by the lengthy audit, lack of knowledge and evidence about their own church and the fact that their churches have ‘a long way to go’.
  • However Margaret encouraged perseverance as this award provides a framework for us to aim at a holistic approach to all environmental matters affecting our churches - working towards the Fifth Mark of Mission ‘To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth’.

Actions agreed

  1. Communicate through Deanery News - a short introduction and then a challenging question per week based on the types of questions in the EcoChurch audit. MP

  2. Deanery Synod in January 2021 - Introduction to this topic MP

  3. Seek opportunities with children and youth activities (and their parents) to focus on our care of God’s Creation - energy saving, waste reduction, ecosystem/animal conservation and creation, all

  4. Build in ‘impact on environment’ as one of the criteria for assessing any church action / activity all

  5. Seek more people who are concerned about the environment within Deanery congregations, aiming for an ‘environmental champion’ in each Parish MP through Chapter and all members of the group locally in their Benefices

  6. Run an event for Deanery clergy about the Fifth Mark of Mission (Care for God’s creation) and what we can and need to do about it. Perhaps a zoom meeting or a webinar MP

  7. Use opportunities in Church Year and through the Lectionary to lead worship and preach on care for God’s Creation eg 6 September 2020 Climate Sunday; Creationtide - the period in the annual church calendar, from 1st September to 4th October, dedicated to God as Creator and Sustainer of all life. MP


     3.  Where we would like this group to get to.  

No time for discussion - but plenty to work at in the items above.

Next meeting - by zoom - date/time in later September tbc

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