In September 2019, in the light of the climate and loss of biodiversity crises, Christ Church launched an “Eco -Group”, with the aim of examining our own responsibilities in this area. By working towards the A Rocha Eco-Church awards, we are looking at all aspects of church life, from the way we use our buildings and grounds to the worship and teaching and our individual lifestyles. Through regular input into Church meeting and items in our monthly magazine, Comment, these issues are kept in the foreground of our thinking. The most recent four articles in Comment can be found below.

Stop Press - JUNE 2023 - We have now been awarded the A Rocha Bronze Award -  Certificate here


Item from April 2024


So how did we do?

Many thanks to those who have shared the results of their Carbon Footprint surveys.  Overall, from the responses I’ve had – and this is a very unscientifically rigorous analysis! – we seem to be roughly average for the UK or a little below.  Maybe anyone who has discovered their footprint is high is keeping quiet about it! However, doing these surveys does throw up a number of issues, which suggest that results are bound to be somewhat approximate.  We should not dismiss them though; they give us an indication of where we are and plenty of food for thought.

The first issue is that the different surveys vary in the questions they ask and the amount of detail required.  But we also discovered that different organisations come up with different figures for the UK average, making it difficult to judge how our own performance compares with others.  As an example, the Open University puts the UK average footprint at 14.60 (tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year) while the WWF calculates it to be 8.8.  With a personal footprint of, let’s say, 10 tonnes, one could feel quite smug having done the OU survey, rather less so doing the WWF one.

Most of the responses were to do with how difficult it is, in practice, to make many of the life-style changes we may ideally like to do, given the way our society is set up.  Finding mainly locally grown food is difficult.  Fully insulating our homes or installing a heat pump might be too expensive for many.  Advice from some organisations can seem impractical; one example that was given is the suggestion that, if booking a taxi, we might ask for an electric one.  On the different, but related question of avoiding plastic packaging, this sometimes feels all but impossible.

Globally, the average carbon footprint has been estimated at around 4 tonnes, but to avoid the worst effects of climate change it needs to reduce to around 2 tonnes.  So, whatever the exact results we have come up with for ourselves  -and acknowledging that as individuals we can’t solve the climate and biodiversity crises alone and much of the responsibility lies with companies and governments - we all need to do what we can to tread more lightly on this planet.  Kate Helleur


Item from March 2024

The custom of giving up something pleasurable for Lent goes back a long way and many people still like to follow it. Others choose to take on a new challenge, so, for those people, here are some creation-friendly ideas. How about choosing one a week – something new for you - for the remaining weeks of Lent?

  • Swap your plastic bottles of shower gel and shampoo for blocks of soap and shampoo
  • Use re-useable bags to buy loose fruit and veg in the supermarket
  • Go through your cupboards/freezer and make a meal out of some foods which need to be used up
  • Time your shower and try to keep it under 4 minutes
  • Repair an item of clothing
  • Walk or cycle to somewhere you would normally drive to
  • Refill your bottles of washing up liquid and other household cleaning products (at the Fairtrade Shop)
  • Use the bus or the train
  • Increase the number of vegetarian or vegan meals you eat by at least one per week
  • Recycle your plastic bags and plastic film at the supermarket
  • Calculate your carbon footprint
  • Go for a walk in a green space and see how many different wild flowers you can see/identify.
  • Check your electricity consumption and think how you could reduce it
  • Buy something for the Foodbank
  • Buy a new fairtrade product or other ethically sourced product
  • Use a lower temperature on the washing machine or dishwasher
  • Avoid bottled water
  • Measure the water you need for your cup of tea and don’t fill the kettle more than that.
  • Turn down the heat; wear more clothes!
  • Find a use for something that you were going to throw away


Item from February 2024


So, the statistics are in for last year and it is official; 2023 was the world’s hottest year by a large and unexpected margin, providing “dramatic testimony” of how much warmer and more dangerous today’s climate is from the cooler one in which human civilisation developed. So say scientists at the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service (CCCS). The planet was 1.48C hotter in 2023 compared with the period before the mass burning of fossil fuels ignited the climate crisis. The figure is very close to the 1.5C temperature target set by countries in Paris in 2015 and the CCCS say it is likely the 1.5C mark will be passed for the first time in the next 12 months. However, the global temperature would need to be consistently above 1.5C for the target to be considered broken.

The average temperature in 2023 was 0.17C higher than in 2016, the previous record year, marking a very large increase in climate terms. The primary cause of this increased global heating was continued record emissions of carbon dioxide, assisted by the return of the natural climate phenomenon El Niño. The high temperatures drove heatwaves, floods and wildfires, damaging lives and livelihoods across the world. Analysis showed some extreme weather, such as heatwaves in Europe and the US, would have been virtually impossible without human-caused global heating.

In the UK one of the expectations from a warming climate is milder but wetter winters and the recent flooding in this country would seem to be indicative of this trend. The cost of repairs and rebuilding and the threat to food supplies as crops are damaged are becoming an increasing burden wherever these extreme weather events take place. Indeed, the effects of climate change cannot be divorced from the broader economy, and we are at a point where the cost of  moving away from our dependence on the burning of fossil fuels will be nothing to the cost, otherwise, of dealing with an impending climate catastrophe. Akshat Rathi, a climate reporter with financial news outlet Bloomberg, argues that it is possible for a capitalist economy to cut carbon pollution without killing markets or competition as “it is now cheaper to save the world than destroy it.” 

Many governments – and of course the oil and gas producing countries and companies – are very slow and reluctant to act, often citing costs in the short term. There are good news stories, however, as climate friendly initiatives are introduced by individuals, companies and governments. It is interesting and encouraging to see that Shell’s board is currently facing a shareholder rebellion as large investors including the UK’s biggest pension scheme are preparing to back a climate activist resolution which calls for the oil company to set bigger emissions reduction targets to align them with the 2015 Paris agreement.

A nice example of a climate-friendly innovation is an investment by Octopus Energy into a green tech start-up firm, Deep Green, who have been piloting using the wasted heat generated by data processing centres to heat public swimming pools. Processing data produces a lot of this free heat and the idea could ultimately extend to such things as leisure centres and district heating networks.

On a negative note, COP 29 this year will again be hosted by a petro-state heavily dependent on fossil fuel production, Azerbaijan. The 28 members of its organising committee have just been announced and almost all are government ministers or officials, including the head of the state security service and the head of Azerbaijan’s state gas distribution network. (And not one is a woman!) 


Following a backlash against the all-male make up of the COP29 Organising Committee, described as “regressive” and “shocking”, the president of Azerbaijan has now announced the addition of twelve women.


Item from December 2023/January 2024


This article first appeared in A Rocha UK's November eNews, and is reproduced with their permission. A Rocha UK is a Christian charity working for the protection and restoration of the natural world, and committed to mobilising Christians and churches in the UK to care for the environment.

On 20 September, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced radical changes to a raft of environmental policies in what he called a “pragmatic, proportionate and realistic” approach to net zero by 2050. In the last few weeks, the Climate Change Committee (CCC), the government’s own advisors on climate, have offered a blistering rebuttal. Far from ‘realistic’, the CCC have warned that these policy reversals have damaged the UK’s ability to meet our climate commitments and will keep energy bills high for millions of households

The announcements included delaying the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030 to 2035, delaying the ban on installing oil and LPG boilers and new coal heating, in off-grid homes to 2035 rather than phasing them out from 2026, an exemption to the phase out of fossil fuel for the approximately one-fifth of UK homes who would struggle the most to switch to green alternatives, and scrapping of policies which would force landlords to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties. The prime minister defended these moves, saying that he is still committed to net zero commitments and trying to “bring the country along with us” and save families thousands by delaying the green pledges

Yet he has faced considerable criticism across business, politics (including several ex-Conservative PMs), and civil society, who have pointed out that this is a false economy which will not only cost more in the long run, but also put another nail in the coffin of the UK’s international climate leadership. Lisa Brankin, Chair of Ford UK, said that the delay on petrol and diesel vehicles undermines the “ambition, commitment and consistency” needed by industry from the government. While there was support from organisations representing rural communities for the delay in phasing out oil and gas boilers, citing the impact and cost on rural communities, the CCC looked over the numbers and, while the 2035 date for new fossil fuel boilers was “potentially compatible” with net zero by 2050, the exemption of 20% of households from the phase out will make “Net Zero considerably harder to achieve”. They also highlighted the widespread uncertainty this creates for consumers and supply chains. Similarly, the CCC found that pushing back efficiency requirements will cost renters about £325 a year more in bills. It also prolongs the chronic problem of cold, damp, poorly-insulated rental properties – properties that leak energy and can be a health hazard

In the same speech the prime minister also announced the scrapping of a series of fictional policies – policies which have never been proposed by the Conservative government or the Labour Party. This included a requirement for households to use seven bins, a tax on meat, and compulsory car sharing. It’s easy to laugh at the idea of seven bins lined up outside your house on bin day, but it all points to a much deeper problem. A willingness of senior politicians to deliberately use false narratives to win votes and advance their agenda risks turning the environment into a wedge issue between political parties. This undermines public understanding of the issue, but also fractures the cross-party consensus in the UK, which has held fast since the 2008 Climate Change Act. Secondly, it also undermines the authority of independent, expert-led advisory bodies like the Climate Change Committee. It’s important that the current government (and the next, whatever its hue) has the courage to have an honest debate about environmental issues, guided by the evidence rather than their political ambitions, and invests in building political consensus around protecting people and the planet. And, it’s more important than ever that we pray for politicians and speak up on behalf of creation

Hannah Eves, A Rocha UK Researcher and Executive Assistant



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