Renewable energy to power thousands of UK churches

UK churches are ramping up efforts to tackle climate change, with more than 3,500 ditching fossil fuels for renewable electricity.

Announced on the world day of prayer for the care of creation, churches across the UK have either switched their electricity supply to renewables or registered to do so.

A total of 1,922 Catholic parishes in 16 dioceses are running entirely on renewable power, with many making the decision to green their electricity in the wake of ‘Laudato Si’, a key message on the environment from Pope Francis last year.

In addition, the Salvation Army is converting the majority of its UK sites (920) while a third (100) of Britain's Quaker Meeting Houses are also making the switch.

In addition, 699 individual churches from across different denominations, including Church of England, Methodist, United Reformed Church and Baptist congregations, have registered individually with the Big Church Switch website to find a 100 per cent renewable electricity deal. There are at least 173 further Anglican initiatives.

Around 340 congregations have also signed up to a wider eco-church scheme that commits them to a range of environmental improvements.

Salford is one of the 16 Catholic dioceses that has made the switch. The Rt Rev John Arnold, who is the Bishop of Salford, said: "There are many ways in which we may respond to the threat and the reality of climate change and adopting renewable energy for our church buildings must be a priority.

"Pope Francis challenges us all to 'care for our common home', and by adopting renewable energy we will directly help people threatened, and already most severely affected, by climate change."

Other Christian agencies welcomed the move by the churches.

Christian Aid chief executive Loretta Minghella said: "We need a big shift to renewable energy and a shared commitment to leave the vast majority of fossil fuel reserves in the ground.

"This action by thousands of churches shows a groundswell of public support for renewables to which governments must respond by doing all they can to shift to a clean energy future."

Tearfund advocacy director Paul Cook said: "The Christian community has come together to help lead the shift to clean energy. We're showing that we care for our neighbours, we care for creation, and we care that the government takes urgent action too."

In July the Committee on Climate Change said the government needed to undertake urgent action to deal with the significant risks of flooding and heatwaves caused by climate change. 

Last year it was announced that church towers in Somerset will be repurposed to help deliver superfast broadband to rural communities. 

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