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Leadership and Ministry parish boiler is about to pack up, what should we be replacing it with?’

In early 2020, a group was brought together by Bishop John Arnold, the bishop responsible for environment issues at the Bishops’ Conference, to think about how the Church could show progress on addressing climate change in the ru-nup to COP26. This discussion involved individuals from CAFOD, the Laudato Si’ Movement and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, who were then able to draw up a plan of action with St Mary’s University and the Laudato Si’ Research Institute. The Diocese of Salford then enthusiastically took the lead on this project, and funding was secured for staff.

The basic plan was to provide practical, easy-tofollow guidance for dioceses on getting to net-zero; to have a common understanding of how to go about it and be able to show our progress as the Church in England and Wales. This means that from the start it was envisaged as a national support and therefore inherently collaborative in approach. Bishop John also encouraged development of a network of diocesan environmental leads, so each diocese has someone responsible for developing environmental strategy, for sharing successes and problems and for consulting on and promoting the decarbonisation work. The majority of dioceses now have someone in place in some capacity, and this group has been vital throughout for making sure that the work is helpful across the country.

In late 2020, Salford Diocese appointed Dr Emma Gardner as ‘Head of Environment’ to design an environmental strategy for the diocese and lead the development of the Laudato Si’ Centre, as well as to lead on the Guardians of Creation work. St Mary’s University assigned two researchers to the project, Dr Roland Daw and Dr Mark Charlesworth, and the Laudato Si’ Research Institute at Campion Hall hired me as ‘Carbon Transition Officer’ as well as providing theological underpinnings to the project. This core team coordinates the work in collaboration with partners, including the Tyndall Centre at the University of Manchester, a wider advisory group, and most importantly the wide network of diocesan staff and environmental groups across England and Wales. The project was named ‘Guardians of Creation’ to link to the 2019 Bishops’ Conference statement on climate change,

to put practical guidance behind the commitments and aspirations made there.

What has been done so far?

The first report, ‘Guidance on Developing Strategy for Decarbonising Catholic Diocesan Building Stocks’ was released in July. This paper, following consultation with diocesan managers, industry experts and academics, gives advice on developing a decarbonisation strategy. Dioceses in England and Wales commonly have around 1,000 buildings to manage, including churches, parish halls or clubs, schools and presbyteries. The paper estimates that the Diocese of Salford alone emits around three hot air balloons of carbon dioxide a day, a figure that does not include schools, which would increase that estimate several times over (schools are often the biggest emitters). Even without schools, the estate is challenging when you consider that many of these buildings will be old, poorly insulated or hard to heat, have uneven usage patterns and are often heritage buildings which may limit what can be done. This paper makes a variety of recommendations about making decarbonisation a routine question when work needs to be done, rather than a ‘one day’ or crisis response.

The next paper to be released will be ‘Guidance on Diocesan Carbon Accounting’ alongside guidance on building energy audits. Funding permitting, the project will also develop a ‘sustainable design guide’

October/November/December 2021 | Pastoral Review Vol 17 Issue 4 | 23

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