The Diocese of Salford has launched a new research project that Bishop John Arnold hopes will spearhead the efforts of the Catholic community to tackle the current ecological crisis by paving the way to a sustainable, carbon neutral future.
The research team will 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.
The two-year pilot project aims to involve more than 100 parishes and 200 schools, alongside religious communities and other parts of the diocese.
The study is part of the church’s response to what Pope Francis has described as the “cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”
It will reduce the diocese’s carbon footprint, improve energy efficiency and generation, and facilitate greater involvement from parishioners and local communities.
Dr Emma Gardner, head of environment at the Diocese of Salford, 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.”
In 2019, the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales set out their commitment to engage in this urgent issue in their statement Guardians of God’s Creation.
In the document, they pledged to avoid the worst consequences of this ecological crisis by engaging now and over the next decade on what they described as the “long path to renewal”.
Bishop Arnold has responsibility for environmental matters at the Bishops’ Conference, making his own Diocese of Salford the perfect place to begin.
Bishop Arnold 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 the findings will assist organisations and institutions beyond the Church both here and abroad.”
Salford is collaborating on the project with St Mary’s University, Twickenham, and the Laudato Si’ Research Institute, Oxford, and is supported by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference. Other partners including the Tyndall Centre at the University of Manchester will be involved as the project progresses.
In December Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to cut the UK’s carbon emissions by at least 68 per cent from what they were in 1990 by the end of 2030.