Frequently asked questions

What kind of organisations can do this?


We've designed this Toolkit to serve local churches in the UK. As more and more of us as churches recognise the emergency and make a plan for action, we'll create a real momentum for change. But this Toolkit isn't just for churches: the key steps of Prepare, Declare and Impact have been designed with flexibility in mind. No matter the size, shape or structure of your organisation, you should be able to take this Toolkit and adapt it for your own situation, whether you are a church network, denomination, diocese, church school, theological college or Christian organisation. Collectively, as the people of God, we can speak up and take action on this global crisis together.




How do I get started?


Tackling the climate emergency can't be done alone. We want to support you along this journey and would encourage you to build a team within your church, school or organisation to help too. You’ve already downloaded the Toolkit, which is a brilliant start. As a next step, we would suggest you talk with your church or organisation leadership and gather a team of people willing to work on this with you. Then head back to the introduction and discuss with your team where to go from here.




Can we reach zero emissions?


The exact target you set should be determined by your governing body. In order to recognise the climate emergency in a meaningful way, the target will need to be substantial and the timescale urgent. This could mean aiming to become carbon-neutral by 2030, or seeking to reduce emissions by ten per cent every year. As a guide, the Church of England and the Church of Scotland share an ambitious goal of ‘net zero’ by 2030, while the UK Climate Change Act commits the UK to reach net zero by 2050.




What does it mean to 'adapt' to the changing climate?


Climate change is already causing significant issues globally, but this is now increasingly being felt in the UK. A realistic action plan needs urgently to reduce our contribution to potentially catastrophic climate change, but also to prepare for further changes in the coming years as the emissions of previous decades take effect. Adaptation measures could include:

  • Making sure climate change impacts are on your organisation’s risk register.
  • Considering the risk of flooding at your church building, overheating in the summer, over-topping of the gutters during extreme rainfall, and stonework damage due to the foundations swelling and shrinking. Can you take practical actions to reduce the impact, such as moving your fusebox higher up? This guidance may help.
  • Making plans to respond with compassion and hope to rising climate anxiety.
  • Arranging some community conversations about climate resilience. Consider how your local community might be affected by:
- higher temperatures - more extreme weather conditions, including flooding - a rise in food prices or food-chain problems - migration following environmental disaster - power shortages/energy insecurity. Adaptation planning is good stewardship of resources. Research also shows that naming these issues now can help people acknowledge the need to take action on the climate emergency.




How does this relate to other initiatives we are involved with?


The Toolkit is designed to help organisations make a step change in their response to the climate emergency. Churches that already have sustainability plans, or are pursuing Eco Church or Eco-Congregation awards, can incorporate declaring an emergency into this process. Declaring an emergency and making a clear action plan should help focus attention on the crucial issue of lowering emissions. This Toolkit also aims to help mobilise individual Christians to influence their households, local communities and workplaces. This isn’t just about the sustainability of Christian communities: it’s about inspiring each other to be a clarion call for change wherever God has put us.




Is it really a climate emergency?


As temperatures continue to rise, people living in poverty are already facing devastating consequences of our changing climate. Rains are less reliable and droughts, floods and storms are becoming more frequent and extreme. These changes are destroying farmland, spreading disease and pushing people back into poverty. For our global neighbours, this is already a very real emergency. In 2015, 195 countries came together to sign the Paris Agreement, a ground-breaking commitment to stop the global average temperature from increasing by more than 2°C, and do all they could to limit it to 1.5°C, based on the average temperature before the industrial revolution. Temperatures have already climbed 1.1°C and we’re on course for over 3°C of warming this century, which would be catastrophic. Even the difference between 1.5°C and 2°C is devastating: it would mean more than 100 million additional people struggling to get water and droughts lasting twice as long. To limit warming to 1.5°C, we now need to cut emissions by eight per cent every year. Yet, despite all of this, global emissions are still rising. We are heading towards a climate with more severe droughts, storms, heatwaves, floods and wildfires, and a world where pandemics and biodiversity collapse are far more likely. This is now a climate emergency.




Why should we get involved – as Christians and churches?


As Christians, we know ‘the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it’ (Psalm 24:1). We’re called to act justly and to love our neighbours. This is God’s good creation, but the way we’ve exploited it is already pushing people back into poverty and risks the collapse of society as we know it. As churches and Christians in the UK facing the climate emergency, might we have been called for such a time as this? Together, we can speak up, live prophetically and protect the lives of millions of people already at risk from this crisis. Like you, we believe the church is God's Plan A for his mission in this world. We can play a crucial role in society, serving our communities and speaking up for justice. We are the largest community organisation on the planet and together, in the power of the Holy Spirit, we can play a crucial role.