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First Steps – Towards Net Zero Carbon (NZC)

First Steps – Towards Net Zero Carbon (NZC)

Net Zero Carbon (NZC) is when the input and output of carbon (and other greenhouse gases) balance. Here are two definitions:

The term net zero means achieving a balance between the carbon emitted into the atmosphere, and the carbon removed from it. This balance – or net zero – will happen when the amount of carbon we add to the atmosphere is no more than the amount removed.

(Energy Saving Trust:

Net zero means achieving a balance between the greenhouse gases put into the atmosphere and those taken out.

Think about it like a bath – turn on the taps and you add more water, pull out the plug and water flows out. The amount of water in the bath depends on both the input from the taps and the output via the plughole. To keep the amount of water in the bath at the same level, you need to make sure that the input and output are balanced.

(National Grid:

The Church of England has set a target of NZC by 2030 for churches and various church institutions to achieve. The scope of the target has been set in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (

“The focus is primarily on our “scope 1” and “scope 2” emissions as defined by standard Green-house Gas (GHG) protocol; electricity, gas and oil used in our buildings, work related travel, and those elements where we either directly control the emissions or where we have significant influence over them.”

From David Attenborough documentaries to news reports, the information about what is happening to our climate and environment is grim. The scientific evidence and assessments are in the following primary document, which includes further references:

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC):

In 2022, the Church of England published its Routemap to Net Zero Carbon by 2030. You can find this document and many other links here:

The Diocese of Winchester have also created an Environmental and Net Zero Carbon Action Plan, which can be found here.

What is a Carbon Footprint?

First of all, what is a carbon footprint, whether it’s for an individual, a church or a large organisation?

Your carbon footprint is how much carbon is released into the atmosphere as a result of your everyday activities. Carbon emissions – in the form of carbon dioxide and methane – are what cause global warming and climate change.

How Do We Measure a Carbon Footprint?

The Energy Footprint Tool is the tool used to record the use of fossil fuels by churches, and also to assess the efficiency of the building(s).

The whole diocese is working to reduce its carbon footprint so that we reach Net Zero by 2030. This is the target required by General Synod. A key part of this is measuring our carbon footprint using the Energy Footprint Tool.

At the moment only a small percentage of parishes have completed their 2023 EFT, so please make sure that your church has sent theirs in before the end of August.

Climate Stewards provide calculators for individuals, small organisations (including churches) and large organisations. They also provide guidance on reducing your carbon footprint.