Guardians of Creation

A project to develop a generalisable framework for sustainability transition in the Catholic Church, for use in the Catholic Church of England and Wales and beyond, commenced in December 2020. This project is supported by the Bishops Conference of England and Wales, with Bishop John Arnold the project sponsor.

The strategic goal of the project is to help the Catholic community in the UK make transformational change towards carbon neutrality and a more sustainable future.   The project will develop a generalisable framework for sustainability transition in the Catholic Church and will be implementable at the Diocesan level.  The project team, which includes researchers from St Mary’s University, The Laudato Research Institute, Campion Hall, University of Oxford, and The Tyndall Centre, The University of Manchester are developing this framework over a two-year pilot case study in the Diocese of Salford.  The project team are also collaborating with dioceses across England and Wales.

The project will build on existing good practice and environmental activities and will concentrate on how to conceptualise and measure Diocesan sustainability (e.g., carbon footprint), how to practically implement and create change towards sustainability in a Diocese (e.g., carbon reduction and environmental management), and how to communicate the implications of sustainability in a Diocese to a wider audience.  It will also engage with issues relating to the social and theological aspects of sustainability in the Catholic Church and will look at integrating primary and secondary education into Diocesan sustainability transition.   The lessons from Salford will be translated into a toolkit that any other Diocese and religious order can use.

Further information:

Project Updates to June 2021

Three hot air balloons of carbon dioxide a day: ‘Guardians of Creation’ project releases decarbonisation strategy guide.

This is the first report from the ‘Guardians of Creation’ project, it will help Catholic dioceses begin that journey, providing advice on developing a buildings decarbonisation strategy. The Guardians of Creation project has been developed collaboratively with the Diocese of Salford, St Mary’s University and the Laudato Si’ Research Institute at Campion Hall, University of Oxford.

Faith groups in the UK, collectively, have a significant property footprint. For the government to meet its legally binding target of reducing carbon emissions by 78% by 2035, the built environment, which is responsible for approximately 40% of UK emissions, will need to decarbonise quickly.

Each Catholic diocese in England and Wales is responsible for hundreds of buildings; churches, halls, schools and presbyteries, in a variety of sizes, conditions and uses. Initial findings estimate that in the Diocese of Salford these buildings (excluding Catholic schools) are responsible for the equivalent of three hot air balloons full of carbon dioxide every day. Data for schools is still being collected, which it is expected will increase this amount several times over.

The report, ‘Guidance on Developing Strategy for Decarbonising Catholic Diocesan Building Stocks,’ is based on consultations with diocesan managers and expert participants from industry and academia. It offers guidance on developing a strategy to reduce the operational emissions of diocesan building stock, breaking the task of decarbonisation down into comprehensible, manageable elements.

This is the first report issued as part of the ‘Guardians of Creation’ project, which is running as a pilot in the Diocese of Salford. The insights from this pilot project are being translated into tools to support other dioceses. During the lifetime of this project, practical guidance will be released on topics such as calculating a carbon footprint and environmental auditing within a diocese, as well as social and theological aspects of sustainability in the Catholic Church.

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Click here to view the Guardians of Creation Project report.

More information on the Guardians of Creation project: