Church of England in Bristol declares Climate Emergency

The Diocese of Bristol has declared a Climate Emergency after a unanimous vote at its Diocesan Synod meeting in Swindon on Saturday. In response to the emergency, the Diocese aims to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030 and has an ambitious policy to help achieve this goal.

The Diocese, which includes 200 churches across Bristol, Swindon, Chippenham, north Wiltshire and South Gloucestershire is the first in the Church of England to declare a Climate Emergency, with others expected to do so over the coming months.

Bishop of Bristol, Viv Faull, said:

“Care for God’s creation is key to our Christian faith. Climate change hits our poorest global neighbours first and worst, exacerbating migration, conflict over resources and the spread of disease. As Christians we are driven to urgent action by love for our neighbour, our world and our creator God. Many of us are already involved in activity to halt the destruction of Gods creation and bring about climate justice.

“By declaring Climate Emergency, our practical action and collection voice will send a strong message. The situation is urgent. There is a need for us all to stop, to rethink, to rework how we act, to find all sorts of ways to tread more lightly on God’s glorious earth. We must all act now.”

Revd David Stephenson, a Bristol vicar who brought the motion to debate at the Synod, the governing body for the Church in the region, said:

“This is not about jumping on a band-wagon, or even being first. Declaring Climate Crisis challenges our own priorities and commits us as churches to work with others to respond to an emergency with global reach.

"Setting our own ambitious target to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030 gives expression and focus to the Declaration – it demonstrates that we are prepared to take the challenge that we urge others to share. Declaration is calling to others; it is also commitment to ourselves and to the gospel.”

The Environment and Climate Justice Policy 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. Churches in the region are being encouraged to sign up to the EcoChurch award scheme and to support church goers to make changes in their own lives.