Churches switch to renewable energy

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More than 5,500 churches including some of the UK’s most famous cathedrals have converted to renewable power to help tackle climate change.

Church of England places of worship, along with Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Quaker and Salvation Army congregations, have made the switch to 100% renewable electricity, and faith leaders are urging more to follow suit.

Fifteen Anglican cathedrals including Salisbury, Southwark, St Albans, Liverpool, Coventry and York Minster are among the buildings signed up to green electricity tariffs.

Church leaders said climate change was “one of the great moral challenges of our time” and hurt the poor first and worst.

With the average annual church electricity bill around £1,000, British churches have diverted more than £5m from fossil fuels to clean energy providers, it is estimated.

The number of cathedrals running on 100% renewable electricity is down to the Church of England’s procurement group, Parish Buying.

Other churches have made the move through the Big Church Switch campaign run by the Christian charities Christian Aid and Tearfund and the Church of England’s environment programme.

Parishes can sign up with the national church buying group 2buy2, which pools the combined buying power to negotiate the cheapest possible tariff. Christian Aid said the renewable energy tariff was often cheaper than the fossil fuel-dominated one they had been on before.

Nicholas Holtam, the bishop of Salisbury and the Church of England’s lead bishop on the environment, said: “It’s fantastic to see churches doing their bit to ensure they reduce their impact on the environment. They are also giving a boost to clean energy, which is essential to reduce harmful carbon emissions.

“Climate change is an enormous injustice and is hurting the poor first and worst. Switching to responsible sources of electricity may seem like a small thing on its own, but when joined together it can make a real difference.”

Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury and the chair of Christian Aid, said the Church of England had agreed to sell its shares in fossil fuel companies not on track to meet the aims of the Paris agreement on tackling climate change.

“Churches are part of a global network and so are often very aware of the plight of our brothers and sisters suffering from droughts, floods and extreme weather around the world,” he said.

He urged the government to set a target to cut UK emissions to zero by 2050 to ensure Britain “remains a green and pleasant land at home and a climate leader abroad”.

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