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Journey towards net zero

Journey towards net zero

April 2021: by Susan Miller

Last November St Mary’s Embsay with Eastby, an Eco Church in North Yorkshire, agreed to work towards the Church of England’s ambitious environmental target of becoming carbon ‘net zero’ by 2030.  Recently they won a grant to help them on their journey.

St Mary’s, a recent recipient of the A Rocha UK Eco Church Silver Award, joined with four other churches in the Craven District of North Yorkshire to form the Towards Carbon Neutral Churches in Craven (TCNCC) Steering Group. They submitted a bid to the Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) for funding for a feasibility study that would advise them on generating renewable energy in each of their church buildings and, just as importantly, how to go about getting the funding to achieve this.

Members from each of the five churches – St Mary’s, Embsay with Eastby (lead church); All Saints, Burton-in-Lonsdale, which is also a Silver Award Eco Church and a Fairtrade Church; St Mary’s, Carleton; St Augustine’s, Draughton; and Holy Trinity Skipton – formed the TCNCC Steering Group and “put in a lot of hard work on the bid”.

They found out on 18 March 2021 that their bid had been successful . . .

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I asked Diana Linford, recently invited to become Parish Environment Officer at St Mary’s, Embsay, about what happens now and about their longer-term eco aims.

“All five churches were really excited to win and we now just need the legal agreement with the RCEF and then we’ll be putting out the tender for a consulting engineer to carry out a feasibility study in each of the churches and produce a set of recommendations for each building,” she said.

The five churches are each planning their own launch events. These are likely to be linked to the Climate Sunday initiative, which has called on all churches across Great Britain and Ireland to hold a climate-focused service on any Sunday before the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) being held in Glasgow in November. The call is to “hold a climate-focused service, to explore the theological and scientific basis of creation care and action on climate, to pray, and to commit to action”.

“St Mary’s is definitely going to have a Climate Sunday Service and we are also having a lead launch event at Holy Trinity in Skipton. The Bishop of Ripon, the Right Reverend Dr Helen-Ann Macleod Hartley, will take part in that as she’s very supportive of the project,” said Diana.

A key aim is to disseminate the findings and recommendations for each of the five buildings, sharing the report as widely as possible with other churches and historic buildings facing similar challenges.

“We’ve already started discussions with Jemima Parker, who is Environment Officer for the Diocese of Leeds, about the dissemination plan,” Diana told me.

She explained that “the bid came about after I and a couple of others attended a Diocesan webinar about the Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) hosted for the diocese by Jemima. After the webinar, we looked at each other and thought we’ve got to go for this. We put the word out to other churches locally because it couldn’t just be a bid from one church; it had to be a group application. We really needed people who were passionate about the vision, who’d got the time to dedicate to it and were prepared to work really hard.”

Visit The Historic Religious Buildings Alliance to read the full article.