The Church of England has been called to deal with its “significant” emissions

The Church of England (CofE) is facing increasing pressure from Christian climate campaigners to address the “significant” carbon footprint of its land holdings and take steps to increase natural carbon sinks on its estate.

The Christian campaign group Operation Noah has today published a new report entitled Church Land and the Climate Crisis: A Call to Actionwhich concludes that CofE-owned land is currently “significantly contributing to climate and biodiversity emergencies in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity limitation in monoculture tree plantations and non-regenerative agriculture”.

According to Operation Noah, the CofE owns around 0.5 per cent of UK land, making it one of the country’s biggest landowners. The report also cites other churches and Christian groups, which are estimated to own a further 0.5 per cent of UK land. The total includes 98,000 acres of rural and strategic land owned by CofE Ecclesiastical Commissioners, 70,000 acres of land owned by CofE dioceses and 31,000 acres in British Forestry, as well as smaller parcels of land owned by private individuals. CofE Churches.

While campaigners acknowledged that the CofE had adopted a Net Zero target by 2030, they warned that its land holdings were outside the target.

The report shows that agricultural land owned by the CofE may generate more greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than all the CofE’s church buildings combined. However, he added that “there is scope for significant improvement if swift and radical action is taken.”

The report therefore calls on the CofE to implement a new program of tree planting and peat restoration, along with a new push to provide better support to help those who manage Church-owned land to reduce agricultural emissions and sequester more carbon.

In particular, the report calls on the CofE to grow more trees as part of agroforestry projects, which involve growing suitable trees alongside crops and in hedgerows and fields that provide buffer zones and create wildlife habitat. It also argues that if church pastures and meadows managed to leave their root systems intact, it could allow more carbon to be stored underground.

Citing the influence and historical significance of the CofE, the report states that the Church must “demonstrate leadership in supporting a just and rapid transition away from fossil fuel investment and use, reducing emissions in all sectors of the Church’s life and promoting sustainable choices and low-consumption lifestyles”.

Guy Shrubsole, environmental activist and author Who owns England?called the new report a “critical” contribution to the fight against climate change, adding that as Britain’s largest landowner, the Church had a “huge responsibility” and “must lead the way” by repairing damaged carbon sinks, expanding habitats and restoring nature.

Andy Lester, head of conservation at A Rocha UK, said: “The Church’s responsibility to engage with challenges and come up with inspired and creative solutions is immediate and huge. I hope this report will go some way to addressing the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead and inspire a new generation of church leaders to act for people, climate and nature.”

The report on Operation Noah comes amid growing concern that the new UK government may end its support for a new wave of wildlife and nature restoration schemes.

Yesterday Guardian said Natural England chief Tony Juniper and Mark Tufnell, president of the country’s Land and Business Association (CLA), are due to meet new environment minister Ranil Jayawardene today to urge him to press ahead with sweeping plans to support the wildlife recovery scheme and reform subsidies for farming to encourage the expansion of natural habitats.

Jayawardene was appointed to the Trust cabinet as part of the reshuffle which included the removal of Lord Goldsmith as environment minister – a move that has raised concerns among environmental campaigners about the new government’s sustainability priorities.

Tufnell urged the government to continue the reforms advocated by Goldsmith, arguing that natural habitats could be expanded without harming food production. “We really need to speed up the land management of the environment and we need to see the restoration of nature,” he said. “It’s a completely false narrative that you can have food or you can have nature. You have to have both, and it’s quite possible.’

https://www.businessgreen.com/news/4056565/church-england-urged-address-significant-emissions The Church of England has been called to deal with its “significant” emissions

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