Environmental policy

Introduction 

The Diocese of Oxford is seeking to become a more Christ-like church for the sake of God’s world.

We recognise in Christ the Word by whom all things were created, in whom all things are held together and “through whom [God was pleased] to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross.” (Colossians 1) We hear Christ’s call to love God with all our heart and mind and to love one another as Christ has loved us. 

Serving Christ and living a life of love inherently involves caring for God’s creation. The fifth Mark of Mission adopted by the Anglican Communion embeds this at the heart of mission, asking us to “strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.” This is not separate from other areas (marks of mission): in caring for God’s world, we proclaim the Good News of Christ’s love, enrich our discipleship, serve those who are suffering because of the climate and ecological emergency, and, as people committed to acting justly, seek to transform the unjust structures of society which underlie aspects of the crisis. 

Oxford Diocesan Synod recognised that the interlinked climate and ecological emergencies are among the most pressing issues of our age and declared a climate emergency in March of 2020. The Synod committed to a broad range of climate and environment-related measures, including an ambitious goal of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2035. Environmental action is, therefore, a key strategic focus area of our Common Vision programme. 

In this policy, we set out our vision, mission and commitments for this work. We seek to be: 

  • Contemplative

    Rooting our work in prayer and theological reflection and using the gifts of Scripture, reason and tradition as we explore new areas 

  • Compassionate

    Placing love of neighbour at the heart of our work and recognising the need for sacrificial love in this area, as in all that we do 

  • Courageous

    Holding all our planning and activities before God and trusting in God where we feel called to bold choices and decisions. 

Vision 

Our vision is: 

  • For the Diocese of Oxford and every congregation and school community within it to have care for creation as an integral part of their ministry and mission;
  • For each congregation, school community, and individual in the diocese to have access to resources for prayer, reflection and practical action that enable them to respond well to the climate and ecological crises;
  • For our congregations and school communities to be prepared for climatic changes, and to have appropriate adaptation and resilience strategies in place, in order to witness to our concern, be examples of positive action, ensure the preservation of our heritage buildings, and act as places of sanctuary in their communities;
  • For the Diocese of Oxford as a whole to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, working towards the Church of England target of net zero by 2030, as scoped by General Synod, and towards our own diocesan target of net zero by 2035, with the wider scope agreed by our Diocesan Synod;
  • For the Diocese to work alongside partners throughout the Anglican Communion and in our own country to ensure that our prayer, advocacy and practical action reflect diverse voices, maximise the power of partnerships, and incorporate global, as well as local, justice issues.

Mission;

Our mission is to incorporate care for creation in the life and work of all parts of our diocese, as part of the wider diocesan mission to become a more Christ-like church for the sake of God’s world. We aim to equip every part of the diocese to respond to the current climate and ecological crisis.

Our Environment Task Group oversee and shape the strategy and delivery of the programme, and provide leadership and direction for the work to support individuals, churches and schools to plan action, training and advocacy in the Diocese of Oxford. 

Commitments 

  1. Increasing holistic care for creation through Eco Church and Eco Diocese

    We will promote the Eco Church programme, working with A Rocha to support churches, sharing stories of churches’ experiences and awards, and encouraging churches to mentor each other. We will embed the targets for Eco Diocese (Annex 1) into our diocesan planning. We aim to become a Bronze Eco Diocese by mid-2022, and to attain further awards in line with, or in advance of, national goals.

  2. Ensuring everyone has access to resources for prayer, advocacy and action

    Recognising that churches will have different levels of time, energy and resource, the diocese will maintain an EcoHub with resources for churches to engage with the areas of activity covered by Eco Church, even if they are not involved with the Eco Church programme itself. These will include materials, training, and networking opportunities to help churches reduce carbon emissions, protect and encourage biodiversity, include the environment in worship and teaching, and engage with the wider local and global community in practical action, prayer and advocacy.

  3. Nurturing everyday faith, discipleship and creating clear leadership pathways

    We will continue to embed creation care within our approach to Christian formation and discipleship and will signpost or facilitate opportunities for training and capacity-building for both lay people and clergy. We will identify processes to attract, discern, train and continuously develop ordained and lay leaders, enabling them in turn to support their congregations, school communities and others. We will provide frameworks for networking, with an emphasis on those that are self-sustaining.

  4. Promoting resilience

    We will work with the National Church Institutions, local authorities and other partners as appropriate to help congregations and school communities to prepare for climate impacts and to develop strategies for being places of sanctuary in their communities.

  5. Achieving our net zero targets

    We will participate actively in work to develop national and local baselines, net zero targets and guidance. At a diocesan level, we will create a baseline, plan specific policies for and resource progress towards net zero in all areas over which we have direct management control, including Church House Oxford and area offices, clergy housing, reimbursed travel, land, areas of procurement that are material, major projects, and investments. We will support activities undertaken by churches and school communities with targeted guidance and tools, and will work alongside all parts of the diocese to explore possibilities for funding. We will monitor and regularly report on progress through the creation of a diocesan dashboard.

  6. Ensuring alignment with the call for justice

    We will work with partners globally and locally to ensure that our prayer, advocacy and practical action on environmental issues reflect diverse voices, maximise the power of partnerships, and incorporate global, as well as local, justice issues. We will be active in advocacy, as well as in prayer and practical action.

Annex 1 A Rocha UK Eco Diocese Criteria 
 

Bronze Eco Diocese Award Criteria 

Silver Eco Diocese Award Criteria (further details here

Registered its intent to become an Eco Diocese.   
Commissioned an individual or group to coordinate progress within the Diocese.  Commissioned a group, such as an environmental advisory or working group, to coordinate progress within the Diocese. 
  Provided training and development opportunities for a group of local/regional promoters such as Eco Champions. 

Written an environmental policy.  

(Agreed by the Bishop's Council and Diocesan Synod, including points on travel, the environmental maintenance of vicarages, and a commitment to reducing diocesan carbon emissions.) 

Written an Environmental Policy which includes land management with an explicit reference to promoting biodiversity and managing the land for carbon reduction across the Diocese. 
Promote environmental care across schools in the Diocese.   The Diocesan Board of Education to have put in place an appropriate environmental policy. 
Commit to develop a plan for carbon reduction.  Agreed carbon reduction targets and developed an action plan to get there. 

Gained the appropriate levels of local church registrations and Awards for Eco Church. 

Bronze Eco Diocese: 10% of local churches registered; 5% of local churches awarded.

Gained the appropriate levels of local church registrations and awards for Eco Church. 

40% of local churches registered, 30% of local churches awarded of which at least a third of these awards should be Silver or higher. 

Achieve the relevant award for Diocesan House / Office (where appropriate) and land (where appropriate).  Achieve the relevant award for Diocesan House / Office (where appropriate) and land (where appropriate) and promote an understanding amongst all staff of Eco Diocese goals. 

Embedded environmental issues in ongoing training.  

(Within the curricula of its training for both lay and ministerial staff.) 

Environmental training should be included in standard Diocesan training for both lay and ordained ministry such that: 

  1. Environmental training is offered to all Diocesan Staff;  
  2. At least two high profile all clergy training events related to the environment have been undertaken in the last four years;  
  3. External training events for Clergy and Lay Ministers / Readers are regularly directly organised or promoted on all aspects of Christianity and the environment;  
  4. In-depth Christian environmental study (e.g. CRES Course or similar) is regularly promoted;  
  5. A connection to the natural world is actively encouraged through promoting networks and events held by external groups; and  
  6. Local church members engaged with promoting parish environmental work, are practically supported for example through Eco Champion networks. 
Managed Diocesan investments ethically.  As a minimum, all Diocesan funds are invested in line with the Provincial ethical investment policy, i.e. in England to start divesting from companies not serious about moving to a low carbon economy; and by 2023 to divest from fossil fuel companies not aligned with the Paris Agreement target. 
  Written an ethical banking and investment policy following established environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) criteria.

Worked with other Dioceses and or faith groups. 

(To encourage greater environmental action, including promoting Eco Church as a helpful tool.) 

Work with partner church groups both locally and internationally to raise mutual awareness in regard to climate change and species loss mitigation and resilience measures. 
Established the habit of recording and celebrating individual environmental initiatives.  Include a clear and substantial presence for environmental issues on the Diocesan website and through wider communication channels. 

 

From A Rocha.


Page last updated: 1st July 2022 2:47 PM