As temperatures soar around the world raising concerns about climate change, more than 5,500 churches have put their faith in clean energy – with church leaders encouraging more to follow suit.
Fifteen Anglican cathedrals including Salisbury, Bristol, Sheffield and York Minster are among the buildings now using 100% green electricity tariffs.
The places of worship that have seen the light of renewables come from across the denominational spectrum and include the Church of England as well as Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Quaker and Salvation Army congregations.
Based on the average annual church electricity bill of £1000, a figure provided by national church buying group 2buy2, British churches have diverted more than five million pounds from fossil fuels to clean energy providers.
The Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, the Church of England’s lead bishop on the environment, was delighted that so many churches had embraced renewable energy.
He said: “Climate change is one of the great moral challenges of our time and so 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.
“It’s very encouraging to see more churches walking the walk and making concrete steps to ensure our common home is greener and cleaner, thanks in part to the Church’s shared energy basket ‘Parish Buying’ now sourcing 100% renewable energy. Hopefully the number continues to grow.
“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.”
The number of Cathedrals now running on 100% renewable electricity is thanks to the Church of England’s procurement group Parish Buying turning their bulk electricity basket to 100% renewables.
Other churches have turned to renewable electricity through the Big Church Switch campaign, a partnership between Christian Aid, Tearfund and the Church of England’s Environment Programme. Parishes can sign up to the scheme run by 2buy2 which then pools the combined buying power to negotiate the cheapest possible tariff. Often the renewable energy tariff is cheaper than the fossil fuel powered one they were on before.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury and Chair of Christian Aid, Dr Rowan Williams, said: “The Church of England recently took a positive step in agreeing to sell its shares in fossil fuel companies not on track to meet the aims of the Paris climate agreement. 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.
“The UK Government also claims to care for people living in poverty around the world which is why it would be good to see it commit to setting a net zero emissions target for 2050. That would be in line with the Paris Agreement and ensure Britain remains a green and pleasant land at home and a climate leader abroad.”
MP Caroline Spelman, Second Church Estates Commissioner at the Church of England and former Secretary of State for the Environment said: “Going green doesn’t have to cost the earth. As renewable energy has got cheaper it’s increasingly the right thing to do from both the head and the heart.
“Churches choosing to switch to renewables is a sign of their values; of responsibility, of caring for our creation and ensuring we all have a secure and prosperous future.”
Emma Pinchbeck, Executive Director at Renewable UK said: “Renewable energy is now a mainstream power source. Any organisation that takes tackling climate change seriously would want to make sure it’s taking full advantage of our bountiful natural resources, including wind, wave and tidal power.
“Renewables are already the cheapest form of new electricity and costs are continuing to fall even further. We’re creating jobs and attracting investment to parts of the country which need it most, such as coastal communities. That’s good news for everyone.”