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The Diocese of Bristol declares a Climate Emergency

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The Diocese of Bristol have joined the growing number of member organisations of the Partnership, including Pukka Herbs, North Bristol NHS Trust and University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust, in declaring a Climate Emergency. Clare Fussell is Diocesan Environmental Adviser of the Diocese of Bristol which is the Church of England in Bristol, South Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Swindon. In this blog post, Clare shares their experience and outlines plans for the future.

When the vote was passed unanimously, the room filled with cheers, applause and even a whistle or two. I’m no expert, but I’m told that it’s rare to hear whoops and whistles in the voting chambers of the Church of England, however, Saturday’s [16th Nov] was no usual meeting.

The cheers were because the Diocese of Bristol had just declared a climate emergency and become the first in the UK to commit to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030. This important announcement comes as the wider world seems to be waking up to the severity of the climate crisis. Over the past year Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion have become household names and have shaken up the campaigning landscape. In Bristol alone we’ve seen the City Council, University of Bristol and a wealth of local institutions from the Old Vic to the Colston Hall and the Watershed all declaring a climate emergency recently.

But this is not about jumping on a band wagon, or being the first past the post. Declaring a climate crisis challenges each of our priorities and commits us to work together to respond to an emergency that has global reach. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns we have fewer than 11 years to drastically alter our path and reduce carbon emissions before it will be too late to avoid catastrophic climate change. And as Christians, we are driven to urgent action by our love for our neighbour, for our world, and for our creator God.

The Diocese includes over 200 churches and community halls, and 72 schools, which will be supported to transition to a low-carbon future as quickly as possible. Collectively we can make a significant difference in reducing the amount of carbon we’re responsible for releasing into the atmosphere. Just as importantly, with 18,000 people regularly worshipping at our churches, we have a real opportunity to engage, inspire and help people make changes in their own lives. Our collective voice sends a strong message to our Government that change is needed and desired.

The Climate Emergency declaration is supported by a new diocesan Environment and Climate Justice Policy that covers energy use and generation, travel, investments, plastics, procurement and recycling, advocacy and campaigning and integrating care for the environment into prayer and worship. It includes plans for more solar panels on church buildings and 100% renewable energy across the diocese.

The Bishop of Bristol, Vivian Faull, responded to the decision:

“Climate change hits our poorest global neighbours first and worst, exacerbating migration, conflict over resources and the spread of disease. By declaring Climate Emergency, our practical action will send a strong message. We must all act now.”

If you’d like to work together as we journey towards a net zero carbon future, please do get in touch. It’s fantastic to be part of the Bristol Green Capital Partnership as we all seek to build a cleaner, brighter world.

Get in touch by contacting Clare on clare.fussell@bristoldiocese.org

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