24 February 2021, The Tablet

Church embraces drive for sustainability

Church embraces drive for sustainability

Pope Francis, pictured here with Juliette Binoche and French environmentalists at a meeting last September.

The Diocese of Salford has announced a new research project that will consider how the Catholic Church in England and Wales can work towards carbon neutrality and contribute to the wider movement towards a sustainable future. 

Responding to Pope Francis’ call towards a new dedication of the Church’s efforts towards the environmental crisis, the two-year project’s research team will, according to the press release, collaborate with “other dioceses, parish communities, industry experts, theologians and other groups to develop carbon accounting and environmental management tools that will lead to an implementation framework for use in other dioceses”.

Formally collaborating with the project are St Mary’s University, and the Laudato Si’ Research Institute, as well as the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, and the Tyndall Centre at the University of Manchester.

The immediate and short-term goal of the project will see the Diocese of Salford serve as a test case for the how Catholic dioceses can achieve sustainability. It will seek to involve over 100 parishes and 200 schools, as well as various religious communities within the diocese, and aims to reduce the diocese’s carbon footprint, improve energy efficiency and generation, and involve lay people and local communities. 

According to today’s announcement from the Diocese of Salford, “the project will take an ‘integral ecology’ approach at all levels, meaning that it will not just be limited to questions of carbon, but will consider wider social and environmental sustainability objectives. Integral ecology is a way of looking at the world that connects at depth our human life with God, each other and the natural world. By doing so it affirms human dignity and the special worth of each and every creature that God has made. It therefore informs our action at different levels, the individual, the family and society.”

Speaking about the new initiative Emma Gardner, head of environment at Salford diocese, said: “We need to take urgent action today to ‘protect our common home’. This project will help provide ways to address the ecological crisis through practical solutions and positive change. The Diocese of Salford is looking forward to working with other dioceses and organisations so we can play our part together.”

John Arnold, Bishop of Salford, said: “The Catholic Church recognises the ecological crisis we are living through and is keen to play its part in delivering the UK net-zero strategy. We are looking to deepen our understanding of how to put a Catholic diocese on the path to carbon neutrality, and this collaborative research will tell us what needs to be done and what structures must be put in place to support this. I hope that the findings will assist organisations and institutions beyond the Church both here and abroad.” 


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