As COP26 approaches here in Glasgow, we at the Evangelical Alliance in Scotland are contributing towards Scotland becoming net zero in its greenhouse gas emissions by 2045. But, we want to go further; we are asking for support from the Scottish Government in two key areas to help make every church in Scotland carbon neutral.

As our policy position on the environment states: We believe it is part of our commission as Christians to be good stewards of God’s creation. In Genesis, after God created the earth and everything in it, He declared it very good. He invited the people He had created to have dominion’ over it; they were to take responsibility for its care. As followers of Jesus, we should treat the earth with respect because God has entrusted us to take care of it.”

Our mandate to care for God’s creation and looking after the world around us comes from the first chapter of the Bible and is an underlying theme throughout the whole narrative of scripture ­– culminating in God making perfect the heavens and the earth (Revelation 21 and 22).

Here in Scotland, we are at a critical juncture with COP26 taking place in Glasgow in a few weeks. The world conference has the potential to be the catalyst for real change in the current alarming trajectory we’re on should world temperatures continue to rise as a result of human activity.


As a people of faith and as individual churches, we want to contribute to this change.

Last week, the Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Patrick Harvie, announced some of the steps the Scottish Government will be taking through the Heat in Buildings Strategy. We at the Evangelical Alliance are pressing the Scottish Government to build on this ambition and the success of the Community and Renewable Energy Scheme to help every church in Scotland becoming net zero in their greenhouse gas emissions. Our asks are twofold:

Net zero church buildings

Across Scotland, church buildings come in all shapes and sizes. From traditional buildings across the Highlands and Islands and city centre high streets to community centres, converted shops and innovative new buildings and extensions, every church congregation’s building is different. In many places they are centres of the local community and are essential to spiritual and family life, used for both Sunday worship services and other purposes during the week.

Therefore, we are asking the Scottish Government to open a grant for places of worship for the specific purpose of converting their buildings to become net zero in energy efficiency, building standards, ventilation and in their heat networks. A restricted grant for this purpose would allow churches to make the specific changes they need for their own buildings in conjunction with the work the Scottish Government will start through the Heat in Buildings Strategy. It would be a fantastic legacy of COP26 for churches in Scotland to be known for their energy efficiency – net zero carbon emissions.

Places of worship deposit return scheme

The Scottish Government’s Deposit Return Scheme will be operational from 1 July 2022. The scheme will work through individuals paying a deposit of 20p when they buy a drink in a single-use container and then they receive the deposit back when they return the empty bottle or can (into a machine or back to staff at venues such as takeaway food restaurants).

The Scottish Government is aiming to capture 90 per cent of all plastic, glass and tin bottles and cans sold through this method. Retailers who sell drinks for takeaway will have to by law operate a return point, but other organisations can apply to become a voluntary return point.

We are asking the Scottish Government how churches can support the scheme as part of the drive to becoming net zero in their sustainability practices. Pre- and post-service tea and coffee and in other contexts during the week are key parts of our fellowship as congregations and for welcoming individuals and families into church. It isn’t an unrealistic aim to capture 100 per cent of single-use drinks containers across Scotland’s churches. So, we are asking the Scottish Government as a community of faith how congregations could start to plan for this with their support.

Energy efficiency and minimising single-use containers would go a long way to helping churches become net zero, and we look forward to what will come of our proposals.

Could you support us in our campaign? You can contact your MSPs with the help of our Connect resource and directly through the website WriteToThem. You can also spread the word on you or your organisation’s social media channels with the hashtag #NetZeroChurches.

Over the next few weeks, look out for our good news stories series on our Facebook and Twitter feeds to hear from different churches across Scotland and how they are making their own contribution towards becoming net zero.