The Church’s Shrinking the Footprint campaign and programme of action to mitigate climate change was launched in 2006. It invited all parish churches to carry out an audit of their energy uses so that a benchmark could be established. Having assessed the size of the current ‘carbon footprint’ of the Church, the idea was to roll out initiatives to shrink that footprint. The target is to achieve a carbon reduction of 80% by 2050 (in line with Government commitments), with an interim target of a 42% reduction by 2020. A dedicated website was set up, which gives suggestions for action and includes examples of good practice.
Church and Earth 2009-2016, the Church of England’s Seven Year Plan on Climate Change and the Environment, was part of the project of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) for ‘Seven-Year Plans for Generational Change’ by the world’s major faiths presented to the United Nations Secretary General in advance of the UN Convention on Climate Change, Copenhagen, December 2009. The Plan, commissioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London, was the work of a task group established under Shrinking the Footprint. It is divided into three main sections:
· The basis for environmental action: the scientific basis for our understanding of climate change, its consequences and those of other causes of environmental depredation plus the moral, biblical and theoretical grounding for Christian responses to these challenges.
· The environmental record of the Church of England from 1978 to the present, including resolutions to the Lambeth Conference and General Synod, C of E writings on environmental issues and examples of action at diocesan and parish level.
· Challenges for future church action in relation to buildings and assets; governance and partnerships; education and young people; lifestyles; pastoral and community work; media and advocacy; celebration.
http://www.growzones.com). It was started by EarthAbbey, an organisation founded by the Revd Chris Sunderland, a priest in Bristol Diocese. EarthAbbey (www.earthabbey.com) aspires to be a prophetic community inspired by Jesus whose life and mission was to bring about a peace which embraces all creation, acting out a message of radical change and focused on the need to live more in tune with the earth.
Grow Zones was piloted in Bristol. It is a resource for those wanting to start a community growing project. No gardening experience is required, though the facilitator needs some organisational skills. Grow Zones will provide the help and resources needed for the first season. An average size team could be 15–20 people with 8-12 different gardens, but Grow Zones works with bigger and smaller sized teams. The participants will have different skills, experience and garden sizes and different availability over the season.
“In the spring or the autumn a team who live geographically close to one another get together. An easy schedule of Saturday morning visits is arranged to each of the gardens to match what needs doing – creating raised beds, pruning and grafting fruit trees, sowing seeds and sharing seedlings. We do preparatory jobs like seed sowing in the spring and harvesting, preserving and tidying up in the autumn. In exchange for helping each other, we’ll learn about permaculture and growing, and share in a bumper crop of fresh produce and most importantly, have some fun. Together we halve the risk and workload but double the harvest.”
There is a Grow Zones Kit designed to make life for the facilitator easy, which comprises materials for the participants and special resources for the facilitator:
1. It gets people growing: Grow Zones gets people growing which, for many, will be their first time. It is designed to encourage reflective practice which means that that learning is shared by the whole group rather than there needing to be one expert or teacher in charge.
2. It introduces permaculture: Participants are encouraged to design along permaculture principles if possible which is a great way to overcome some of the challenges facing a new grower.
3. It is an organisational resource. The kit provides the resources and the structure to organise the garden designs and the diary of visits. Organising garden designs and a diary of visits for a large group of people (so that each garden has a design, is visited by the team, but that no participant does more than four visits) can be a lengthy task without a structured process to help you do it.
4. It is a community forming project. Participants are likely to form friendships and stay in touch through Grow Zones.
5. It provides insurance cover. Registered Grow Zones are covered by insurance to give you peace of mind during the group visits.
David Shreeve, the Church of England’s national environment adviser, said:
“Churches and faith groups are ideally placed to establish Grow Zones. Many younger families have the enthusiasm whilst older people often have the gardens which they would welcome some help with and so here's an excellent way to bring congregations together. Grow Zones not only provide practical opportunities, but can produce a very real sense of community with all ages sharing in a 'real-life good life'.”
Chris Sunderland said: “The Grow Zones Kit has been developed to help teams get organised and growing without necessarily having any expert knowledge. At the beginning the project was a way to get people growing their own food but it has proved to be an amazing friendship and community forming project too. It seems easier for people to make friends over shared work.”
· Bring together personnel from different diocesan departments across the six dioceses in the south west, to develop common working on the Shrinking the Footprint campaign in the region.
· Pursue initiatives in co-operation that individual Dioceses cannot pursue in isolation.
· Encourage each other and share best practice.
· Provide guidance regarding development of policies, plans and initiatives.
· Derive greater influence by joining together to represent the church’s interest; for example, campaigning and joint purchasing.
The departments represented are Archdeacons; Cathedrals; DAC; Diocesan Environment Officers; Diocesan Secretaries; Education; Finance; Property; Social Responsibility Officers. The Group reports to the Diocesan Secretaries.
· World religions share common ground in their values and commitments to caring for the earth and communities.
· Faith communities are often historically rooted in local neighbourhoods and have considerable resources of land, buildings, people (volunteers and paid staff), expertise and relationships.
· Most faith communities use their resources to provide services to all members of the community.
· Most people care about their community, irrespective of whether or not they have a religious faith.
· Organisations/agencies from all sectors would support partnership action that enabled residents to transform their communities.
· By facilitating action led by faith community partners, activity undertaken could be sustained.
The idea was to have paid workers who could facilitate positive environmental change supported by local people and faith communities working together. Operation EDEN provided free support, advice and training and access to a Development Fund to seed small scale projects with grants of up to £4,000. Projects in the 10% most deprived areas had to secure at least one sixth match funding and in other areas, one third. Projects workers supported them to do this. Between 2004 and 2007, 57 projects were funded. Funding was secured from the Northwest Development Agency (NWDA), the Environment Agency and Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority, totalling of over £500,000 over three years. There were output targets attached to the funding (such as hectares of land remediated or brought back into community use and number of adults trained). The range and reach of the projects far exceeded expectations.
The Eden Project only covered Merseyside, the geographical area of the Diocese of Liverpool. However, the intention was always to test the success of a multi-faith project on Merseyside and, if it worked, roll it out regionally. In 2007, with the support of NWDA, it was retitled Faiths4Change and extended to working with faith communities from across the North West, still focusing on the interlinked areas of climate change, social justice and health and wellbeing. New bases were established in Burnley, Manchester and Preston, all within faith community-owned buildings. Faiths4Change expanded and flourished until Spring 2011 when the abolition of Regional Development Agencies cut off its main source of funding. Between 2008 and 2010, it supported 74 projects which together had over 900 volunteers who put in about 12,000 volunteer hours. F4C invested around £88,000 in projects which attracted a further £124,000 cash match and over £200,000 in kind. In recent times, as a registered charity and social enterprise, F4C has had contracts from bodies such as United Utilities, Merseyside Waste Disposal Agency and the Environment Agency, primarily to work with faith communities in some of the most disadvantaged areas in the North West. F4C also receives a donation for each individual or faith community that signs up to Ecotricity and uses the income to purchase sustainability kits for parent and toddler groups.
Examples of current projects are:
· Food4Thought is a joint project with Asylum Link Merseyside that enables asylum seekers, refugees and local people to socialise, using food as a means to learn about each other, increase health and wellbeing and to enjoy sharing.
· The Simply Living project engages parents/guardians on low incomes with babies and pre-school children to promote awareness and behavioural change in relation to energy and water efficiency, food growing and waste disposal habits.
· Sowing Seeds for Transformation – a Schools Food Growing Programme was developed in partnership with the Liverpool Diocese Education Team and their Advisory Head Teacher. It is a chargeable service that supports Every Child Matters, Sustainable Schools, Eco Schools and Healthy Schools. Exciting and rewarding for children and staff, it builds confidence for children, supports their learning and promotes exercise and increased nutrition and it involves parents and community members. Services are tailored to meet the needs of each school community. First Steps enables staff to plan and develop a sustainable food growing partnership project with considerable support from Faiths4Change Projects Officer. One-day workshops for the whole school community include ‘Sowing and Planting’, ‘African Bag Gardens’ and ‘Food from Around the World’.
· Sustainability audits for churches (see box below).
· Faiths4Change is currently developing new work with United Utilities in Burnley, an area experiencing water resource issues, to engage with Muslim households and Mosque groups to create a water saving programme.
· Environment Agency funding is directed towards work around flood risk, for example in Rochdale and Bolton.
Having begun as a Diocese of Liverpool initiative, F4C became an independent charity in 2010. It has had to go through a period of retrenchment because of the loss of significant pots of funding, though some of the staff who were made redundant are continuing on a self-employed basis because demand remains.
Faiths4Change Energy and Environmental Audits for Churches
The purpose is to help identify wastage providing a starting point to reduce energy consumption, lower CO2 emissions, and use water more carefully, whilst also thinking about how any waste may be better managed.
“We’ll come and spend a day with you and look at how your building is being used and the heating and lighting, water and waste. You’ll need to provide us with information such as utility bills and meter readings. We’ll provide you with a detailed report based upon the observations made and analysis of information which will highlight areas of good stewardship as well as areas to be addressed to lower your carbon and environmental footprints and your financial costs.
Following on from the audit and report, we’ll continue to analyse your energy consumption so that from start to finish of the process you’ll have a better understanding of how your building is performing and as a consequence you’ll be able to determine if you are burning money or making savings that could be put to good use elsewhere.”
Action on the environment began in the 1980s in the area of the Exeter Diocese when the Devon Christian Ecology Group was set up and a Churches Green Action programme began. There is a team to oversee and promote Shrinking the Footprint, (StF) focusing on churches and other buildings. Bearing in mind that the three largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions are power production (mainly electricity), buildings and transport, it was concluded that the StF campaign needed to focus on activities in five areas:
Eco Faith is a resource created by Chichester diocese, local councils and the Catholic diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The programme is designed for all faith groups to help them reduce the environmental impact of their faith buildings and also the impact of members on the environment in order to slow down the effects of climate change. There are resources on topics such as climate change, energy efficinecy in places of worship and homes, fuel poverty, waste reduction and food as well as theology and the environment.
'Eco-Congregation' developed from a partnership between the Government funded environmental charity ENCAMS (which runs the Keep Britain Tidy Campaign and the Going for Green brand) and the Environmental Issues Network of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland. It aims to encourage churches to consider environmental issues within a Christian context and enable local churches to make positive contributions in their life and mission.
 From the Foreword to the Church and Earth 2009-2016, the Church of England’s Seven Year Plan on Climate Change and the Environment, (October 2009) by the Rt Revd Dr Richard Chartres, Bishop of London and Chair of the Shrinking the Footprint Campaign.