Tracking our Carbon Footprint
Written by Rob Floyd, Assembly Associate General Secretary
As part of its new Climate Action Plan, the Assembly has begun to measure its carbon footprint. Our goal is to become carbon neutral by 2040 by reducing emissions 5% each year.
This year the COVID-19 pandemic has shown what is possible.
The financial year of 2019-2020 has been marked by months of COVID-19 restrictions when everything slowed down.
International travel was shut down and we all stayed closer to home. The earth has been given a rare opportunity to replenish. Consumption has given way to a more sustainable and thoughtful way of living. We have seen smog-free skies over major cities.
The impact of COVID-19 restrictions has also borne out in our own measurements. Lockdown has changed the way we operate as an Assembly office, and this has made a difference.
When compared to the previous year, electricity consumption in our Assembly office more than halved. Similarly, all travel bans saw a 27% reduction in our air travel and 36% for our taxi usage. These have all led to corresponding reductions in our carbon footprint between the two years.
The pandemic has shown us what can be possible if we change some of our former work habits.
Its early days and we have much more work to do.
The process we have taken so far has involved a number of steps:
- We began by looking at our carbon footprint in the financial year 2018-2019. This figure represents our baseline. We have repeated that calculation for the financial year 2019-2020 and will continue to do so each year hereafter.
- We needed to consider what we could reliably measure so that we are consistent in our measurement each year. We also needed to find some tools to help us calculate carbon dioxide output.
- So far, we have been able to measure the electricity usage in our offices and also carbon dioxide produced from all our air travel. We have also undertaken calculations for all our taxi travel.
- We are continuing to look for ways to accurately assess accommodation and car hire, as well as carbon dioxide output from other purchases within our office.
From here, we will continue to find ways to reduce our carbon output and consider ways we can offset the carbon we are unable to eliminate.
Our Climate Action Plan calls on us to be accountable to ourselves, to the wider Church and to the community. We will continue to share this journey with you and hope to receive feedback too.
I know other parts of the Church are already ahead of us in this and we would love to hear and share stories of how different groups are approaching this important work.
For people interested, some websites we are finding useful include:
Climate Justice Resources:
For congregations and individuals looking at ways they can take action or talk about climate change or encourage others in their community to join them, here is a new list of Climate Justice resources that you might find helpful. Thanks to VIC/TAS Synod for initiating this resource.
Photo credit: Solar panel cross at O'Connor Uniting Church in Canberra estimated to produce about 3,500 kWh of energy annually, saving 4.24 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. Read more about their eco-faith story: https://fiveleafecoawards.org/churches-involved/oconnor-uniting-church-act/