Climate activists welcome Church of England's 2030 net zero target

(Photo: Unsplash/Thomas Kelley)

The Church of England's new commitment to reach net zero target emissions by 2030 has been welcomed by Christian climate campaigners. 

The target agreed by its parliamentary body, the General Synod, on Wednesday is 15 years earlier than the 2045 deadline that had been originally put forward for debate. 

Christian Aid's Director of Policy and Campaigns, Patrick Watt, said that the 2030 target would be "challenging" to meet and that the Church of England would need to "work hard" to achieve it. 

But he said that it puts the Church of England "at the forefront" of climate change action and will be an encouragement to "vulnerable people on the front lines of the climate crisis who will see an institution taking the danger seriously and responding to it". 

"No organisation on the planet should be more aggrieved by the suffering and injustice of climate change than the Church," he said.

"The Church can and must have a long-term perspective that spans the generations. This is something from which governments and business can learn."

He added: "This truly is 'good news to the poor' as Jesus says in the Gospel of Luke." 

With the UK hosting the UN COP26 climate summit in Glasgow this November, Watt said that the Government would be "seriously challenged" by the Church of England's net zero commitment. 

"Now politicians need to rise to the level of ambition set by the Church and implement policies that ensure the UK decarbonises its economy well before 2050 while also providing help to those around the world who are most affected by the climate crisis," he said. 

Dr Ruth Valerio, global advocacy and influencing director at Tearfund, who recently launched the Church of England's green Lent campaign with the Archbishop of Canterbury, said that responding to the climate crisis with urgency was a "global priority and must be done with speed". 

"It is only right that the church shows bold climate leadership now as we prepare to hold the UN climate talks in Glasgow this year," said Dr Valerio, who is the author of the Archbishop's 2020 Lent book, Saying Yes to Life.

"The church must continue to take courageous steps to cut its carbon emissions ensuring it reaches net zero as soon as possible, protecting the world's most vulnerable people and the wider natural world."

Holly-Anna Petersen, of Christian Climate Action, said: "We, as the Church of England, have taken a bold and prophetic step today and shown that we are a faith that cares about the suffering of our neighbours around the world.

"Christian Climate Action is looking forward to working alongside the Church of England and environmental NGOs, as we make this target a reality. It's going to be tough work making this happen but I can't think of anything more worth our time and efforts."