The Scottish Episcopal Church journeying towards Net Zero carbon emissions

2nd July, 2024

Dotted about Perth and Kinross, lie some beautiful church buildings that are home to congregations of varied sizes and traditions, and extend their welcome to many community groups. Churches traditionally were the community hubs of Scottish towns and villages, and this is often still the case today. However, for these buildings to remain part of Scotland’s present and future, a lot of work is needed to make them fit for purpose in a changing climate, and to minimise their environmental impact.

The Scottish Episcopal Church has committed to journeying towards Net Zero carbon emissions. This is a huge challenge and a huge opportunity: to create a sustainable church for the now, and the future. For some churches this looks like increasing the use of their buildings through the week, partnering with other community groups, or enabling the church building to be a warm welcoming space. For others the focus may be on increasing biodiversity in the church garden or graveyard – creating a reflective space for people and a home for nature. Some churches are tackling head-on the challenge of reducing and eliminating the use of fossil fuels, by switching to renewable energy.

As part of the action plan to reach Net Zero, the Scottish Episcopal Church has employed a Net Zero team, to encourage and advise churches on this journey. Bethany Nelson is the point contact from the team for the Diocese of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane. This geographical area, which includes Perth and Kinross, also has a dedicated group of volunteers that together form the Diocesan Environment Group. The Cathedral for the Diocese is St Ninian’s, Perth, which has an active eco group and recently achieved a silver award from Eco-Congregation Scotland. To find out more about the cathedral’s eco work please visit the website. The Cathedral will be hosting a Diocesan Environment Gathering on Sunday 22nd September. St John the Baptist, Perth have recently undertaken HeatHack workshops to find out more about the energy efficiency of their buildings, and to create a plan for how to improve this. Other churches, like Holy Trinity Pitlochry are making plans to improve their buildings, whilst also working hard on the space they have outdoors. Holy Trinity’s Serenity Garden is a wonderful community project that you can visit anytime, and can read about here.

Wherever churches are at in their journey towards sustainability, their motivation comes from the Christian faith, which calls people to care for all of creation – the plants, animals, environment and of course humanity. The hope is that churches can be lights in the often-darkening environment that we find ourselves in; encouraging others in climate action and working together for the good of our planet.

Dr Bethany Nelson, Net Zero Empowerment Coordinator and point contact for the Diocese of St Andrews, Dunkeld & Dunblane; For more information and access to resources, you can access the Net Zero Portal.