Government urges 'carbon footprint strategies' for church buildings

By staff writers
May 9, 2007

'Carbon footprint strategies' should be considered for all forty-three Church of England Cathedrals, a Government minister has urged.

At a conference at Lambeth Palace yesterday, Climate Change and Environment Minister Ian Pearson urged that solar panels be placed on church halls and biomass boilers in church schools.

During the meeting cathedral Deans, architects and administrators also heard expert testimony to the way global warming will affect the Church's historic buildings - from the effect of heat on large expanses of lead roof and medieval stained glass to greatly increased rainfall, storms and lighting.

Together they considered a carbon footprint strategy for each cathedral and identified ways in which cathedrals and other church buildings might contribute to reducing pollution by use of energy saving electrical appliances, increased recycling, heating and water use.

The Conference was hosted by the Association of English Cathedrals (AEC).

Ian Pearson warned those gathered that Cathedrals were "not immune to the effects of climate change. We need to take care of our cathedrals now, as they need to be prepared for the more extreme weather of the future and must start adapting if they are still to be standing a century from now.

"Medieval cathedrals stand today as monuments to the skill, ingenuity and ambition of the engineers and architects of their time: a testament to the potential of mankind to solve problems creatively and with dedication. We need to apply this creativity to finding climate solutions.

"While a wind-turbine on St Paul's might raise a few eyebrows, I'd love to see solar panels on church halls, biomass boilers in church schools, and maybe in future we should be thinking about how, by using microgeneneration, cathedrals can help produce energy as well as use it".

Mr Pearson said that climate change would affect everyone on an individual level, and could not be a problem for governments or businesses alone.

"The Church of England and other faith groups can play a vital part in promoting action against climate change here in the UK and internationally," he said.

"Many churches and cathedrals are already doing innovative, practical work to reduce their emissions and adapt to climate change. They can mobilise communities and are spreading the message that doing something about climate change needn't involve a grand gesture - every small step is important."

The Bishop of London, Dr Richard Chartres said: "The aims of the conference directly support the wider Church of England 'Shrinking the Footprint' campaign endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and launched on World Environment Day last year. The Archbishop of Canterbury has several times pointed out that we have no right to appeal to our contemporaries on this issue if we have failed to put our own house in order. There is spiritual work and there is scrutiny of our own life together in our use of the gifts of creation. We can all as individuals play our part and the Church is well placed in the local community to build change in this area."

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) working group two report in April this year - the work of thousands of independent scientists across the world - concluded that rising temperatures caused by human induced climate change over the last 30 years have already had an impact on people and the environment.

In the UK, buildings will have to be better able to cope with the higher temperatures and more extreme weather that climate change will bring.

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