Eco Congregation News

SEC 10 Points of Guidance to combat Climate Change

The 2020 General Synod of the SEC called for the whole church to work towards a target of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030. To help churches achieve this objective, the synod endorsed 10 points of guidance and a programme of actions. The necessary changes encompass almost all aspects of church life. The challenge is considerable but a step- by- step approach is envisaged, acknowledging that each church’s plan of action will be unique to their situation.

The Ten Points of Guidance are:

  1. Seeking to reduce energy use in all our buildings and moving from oil/gas to electricity where possible
  2. Changing from fossil fuel to electric heating and renewable energy solutions such as heat pumps and solar power on our properties 
  3. Using less polluting forms of transport, electric or hybrid cars, car sharing, wherever possible walking or cycling. Using online meetings often, but balanced with our need for human contact and Christian fellowship. 
  4. Purchasing food & waste: using fairly traded, environment and animal friendly products in kitchens, offices. Reduce, re-use and repair where possible. Reducing waste by composting and recycling. Reduce paper use.
  5. Investment: considering changing church investments to avoid supporting companies extracting or burning fossil fuels on a large scale.
  6. Developing biodiversity and conservation schemes on our land.
  7. Worship: promoting care for God’s creation through our preaching, liturgy, worship and prayers. Sharing good practice with each other
  8. Education: promoting learning within our churches and diocese about climate action and care for God’s creation.
  9. Community: Work with others in our local community and for global justice for vulnerable societies most affected by climate disruption.
  10. Seeking expert advice, practical help and funding possibilities.

The SEC devised the following ‘Toolkit Checklist’ of generic recommended actions. The progress made by St Michaels Helensburgh against each item is shown in italics: 

  1. Reduce Energy use and improve energy efficiency.
    1. Insulate all buildings. Insulating our Victorian church building is impractical particularly as church and halls are only used for a few hours a week. Emphasis is therefore on insulating the rectory, starting with the large single glazed window adjacent to the stairs.
    2. Reduce Draughts. New thicker curtains have been installed in the church halls. Church doors kept shut and draughts minimised by use of porch doors. Heat Loss via church tower to be investigated.
    3. Refurbish radiators, install smart thermostats. We have retained the original cast iron radiators to heat the church, but heating pipes in basement areas are insulated. Smart thermostat has been installed in the church.
    4. Audit building use to plan when heating needed. Church thermostat set to 7*C and only raised for services. Mid week services held in Trinity Chapel which is electrically heated. Hall heating is all electric and with modern timers to avoid energy wastage.
    5. Install LED lighting. All our light bulbs are now LED.
    6. Install movement sensors on lights. To be considered.
    7. Install energy efficient equipment. Electrical Equipment is never left on ‘standby’. Limited electrical equipment installed at St Michaels is all A+++ rated.
  2. Move from oil/gas to alternative heating sources, which may require a longer term plan.
    1. Consult SEC document ‘Sources of guidance to churches on heating of buildings’. Noted.
    2. Complete Energy Audit by qualified expert. Church of Scotland energy consultant completed a full ‘Heating Survey’ of church and rectory in Dec 2021. Recommendations are being implemented where practical. 
    3. Switch to green energy tariffs. St Michaels has switched energy suppliers a number of times during the current energy crisis.
    4. Replace gas boiler with heat pumps or solar panels. Current boiler is gas powered and of modern ‘condensing’ type installed in 6/19. It has an estimated life of 10-15 years, so we may consider replacing it around 2029. 
    5. Look out for grants. Earlier boiler replacement will be considered if appropriate grants become available. 
  3. Reduce transport emissions. 
    1. Encourage walking/cycling/public transport/car sharing. Encouraged as far as practicable given dispersed nature of St Michaels congregation. 
    2. Provide bicycle racks/shelters/electric car charging points. For future consideration if there is a demand.
    3. Normalise meetings on-line where appropriate. ‘Zoom’ is used when appropriate.
  4. Purchasing, food & waste.
    1. Consider what you buy to reduce waste. Encouraged in the St Michaels community.
    2. Refuse unsustainable items (eg plastic bags) and reduce paper useage. Encouraged in the St Michaels community.
    3. Reuse/repurpose surplus items. Encouraged in the St Michaels community.
    4. Install easily accessible recycling bins. Available in the upper hall porch.
    5. Consider saving water. Encouraged where appropriate.
  5. Investment.
    1. Follow SEC policy and don’t invest in companies that are carbon fuel intensive. St Michaels investments are all in the ‘SEC Unit Trust Pool’.
  6. Promote biodiversity and Conservation.
    1. Use church grounds to encourage biodiversity. Rectory garden is carefully tended with biodiversity in mind.
    2. Plant flower tubs. St Michaels has numrous ‘half barrel’ tubs in front of the church all maintained by volunteers and suitably planted.
    3. Consider bird/bat boxes. To be considered.
  7. Worship – be the Church in action
    1. Embed care for God’s creation in all church life through preaching, liturgy, worship and prayer.
    2. Celebrate season of creation (Sep-Oct)
    3. Hold annual Climate Sunday.
    4. Pray for change.
    5. Plan a pilgrimage. To reconnect with God and nature.
    6. Young people and children.
    7. Join Eco congregation Scotland. St Michaels is a bronze level member, considering applying for a silver award.
  8. Education.
    1. Explore educational and theological materials available around climate change.
  9. Be the Church in community
    1. Form an Eco Group. To be considered.
    2. Engage with other churches & local community groups. To be considered.
    3. Promote local environmental initiatives. Events such as beach cleans advertised in ‘The Messenger’, website and weekly sheets.
    4. Host public events on climate issues. St Michaels church halls are available as appropriate.
    5. Follow the work of others. St Michaels has been a strong supporter of Christian Aid for many years.
  10. Seek expert advice, fundraising options.
    1. Refer to expert organisations (Zero waste Scotland/Energy Savings Trust). Consulted as required. 
    2. Prepare your carbon footprint for energy audit in advance for funding applications. 

Completed by 

N Davies

Vestry Secretary January 2023 

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