We spoke to Julia Edwards, the Climate Change Champion for the Church in Wales (the Anglican church in Wales), about her role and how churches there are tackling climate change.
Please introduce yourself and tell us about your role
My name is Julia Edwards and I have been the Climate Change Champion with the Church in Wales for the last two years. The role is very varied. In April 2021, the Church in Wales declared a climate emergency and committed the church to the bold and ambitious target of Net Zero by 2030.
My first task was to devise a Net Zero Action Plan for the church. The resultant Net Zero Framework contained a series of action points for the church at all levels, plus three initial recommendations: to train people well; to audit buildings well; and to measure carbon well, and we have been addressing each of those.
On a day-to-day basis, in addition to providing advice and replying to church members’ queries, my role involves: developing policies to embed the climate emergency into all existing and future plans and strategies of the church; meeting with diocesan staff and local churches who are already undertaking climate action; implementing the decisions of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales; and working alongside partner organisations, including Tearfund, which promote climate justice.
What is the Church in Wales doing on climate change?
The Church in Wales has developed two key documents to assist congregations on their Net Zero journey:
Net Zero can seem quite daunting initially, so The 10-Point Plan: Where to Start? guide outlines a sequence of activities that local churches can embark upon to kick start their Net Zero journey. The idea is that quick wins build success and encouragement so that churches feel able to progress with bigger and more ambitious initiatives.
Traditional church buildings are often perceived as stumbling blocks to our low-carbon future owing to their large size and infrequent use. The Practical Path to Net Zero guide focuses on buildings and helps local churches to start with the easy, small steps. The tailored advice offers progressive suggestions suitable for all churches: churches with medium energy use, and those large, busy churches wishing to undertake more complex projects that would involve the adoption of low-carbon heating technologies.
In addition, we have been busy undertaking energy audits of selected church buildings, developing an online energy footprint tool to calculate the carbon footprint of our churches and offering a variety of carbon and creation awareness courses to enhance knowledge and encourage people to act. This included running an online Climate Leaders course with Tearfund specifically for Church in Wales churches.
Tell us more about the Climate Leaders course
I found the experience of developing and delivering the Climate Leaders Programme with the Tearfund team truly enriching and a pure joy as we were able to offer inspiring theological input from Tearfund Director Ruth Valerio intertwined with practical climate action from Tearfund, A Rocha UK Eco Church and ourselves. More than 60 participants attended the three online sessions and people particularly appreciated the theological reflections and practical applications of Net Zero, as well as the opportunity to meet like-minded and enthused individuals from within their own diocese during breakout group discussions. We very much hope that the course has enabled lasting relationships to be established and allowed for ongoing mutual sharing and support to take place at all levels of the church.
What are your hopes for the future?
My hope is that through innovative and inspiring leadership, the Church in Wales will be at the forefront of climate action and congregations will be inspired and driven to act for the benefit of the local church and wider communities.
We are facing a climate emergency and as Christians we are compelled to live out our calling to care for creation through actions and deeds. Our Net Zero Strategy is our loving expression of this intent. We hope to see lots of Welsh churches added to the map of churches who have declared a climate emergency and are now taking action on climate change.
If your church is a part of the Church in Wales, you can contact Julia for advice and support on email@example.com.