Some months ago we reported how our Diocese has moved to a ‘green energy’ supplier, along with a number of other dioceses. In the Commission we wondered if there were other actions that the Diocese could take to reduce its carbon footprint to both demonstrate its witness to the truths expressed in Laudato Si and to take practical action in support of its aims.
However, given that the Diocesan finances are in a poor state and that we are not technical experts in renewable technologies, it looked like there might be a few problems in trying to do anything about this!
To overcome these difficulties we developed a project proposal suitable for a university student. We framed it in terms of evaluating the feasibility of reducing the carbon footprint – so that the costs and monetary benefits will be included in the work.
Originally, the idea had been to see if there were church roofs that would be suitable for solar panels. However, by using the idea of carbon reduction there is a wider range of technologies to consider-and some will be more cost-effective than others in different church circumstances.
The university accepted our Project Brief and we currently have a student from the MSc course in Sustainability and Consulting at the University of Leeds carrying out the work. His name is Mohamed Juma and he comes from Bahrain. He came to the UK five years ago to study for an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering at Portsmouth University. He came to Leeds because he is interested in working in the field of renewable energy. His MSc course seemed a good starting point for this goal, and our project was a good match with his interests.
He will be completing the first draft of his report by the end of August.
Members of the Commission have taken Mohamed to a sample of churches in the Diocese so that he can see their size, general construction and understand their current energy usage. We have tried to ensure that he experiences the full range of the types of churches that exist! –big churches such as St.Augustine’s in the Harehills area of Leeds, old churches like St Stephen’s in Skipton through to newer or re-furbished churches such as St Patrick’s in Leeds and The Church of the Assumption in the West Park area of Leeds.
We are grateful for the help of parish priests and parish administrators for taking the time to show Mohamed around and make available copies of utility bills. We will report back once the work has completed.
The Global Catholic Climate Movement have launched a campaign to get one million Catholics to sign a ‘ Laudato Si’ Pledge.