This November, leaders from around the world will gather in Glasgow at COP26 to chart a new course towards a safe and sustainable future. The climate and biodiversity crisis are collectively pushing many of the world’s ecosystems to the brink of collapse, and with it, many of the support systems that billions of people depend upon. As one of the biggest landowners in Scotland, the Church is plotting its route to reduce carbon emissions and encourage good stewardship of the planet. The 2021 General Assembly approved an outline strategy for the transition of the Church to net-zero carbon emissions by 2030.

What is the Church doing to meet these commitments?

The national strategy aims to support all congregations, many of whom are already reducing their carbon emissions. Here are some examples of projects already happening or under development nationally:

  • Energy Footprint Tool: the first step of the strategy is to establish our current carbon footprint to monitor progress towards net zero. With the help of the Church of England, we are developing an Energy Footprint Tool, where congregations can input their energy use and bills as part of the annual statistical return.
  • Green electricity: The General Trustees offer a green electricity tariff that is 100% carbon-free. Over 70% of congregations have already signed up. If you haven’t already joined, please get in touch by emailing
  • Transport: a pilot project investigating installing electric vehicle charge points in church grounds is in development. More will be available on this soon.
  • Trees in church grounds: Over the summer, 158 congregations participated in a tree counting pilot project. The aim is to understand more about the role of trees growing around church buildings. More information will be available in due course.
  • Following a successful orchard pilot project, which saw fruit trees planted in church grounds, a handbook on tree planting specifically for churches is in development.
  • Work by the Investors Trust to disinvest from the oil and gas industries is a step in reducing the Church’s overall footprint.

What are congregations doing to reduce carbon emissions?

From growing vegetables to insulating buildings and getting people onto bicycles, the list of congregation-led initiatives is huge. Visit the CoS website here to see some examples.

As green fuel is not always cheaper and fuel bills continue to rise, improving efficiency is key. Cost-free or low-cost changes can be effective in improving energy efficiency, and much can be done without significant investment in buildings.  ZeroWaste Scotland can offer free advice to charities and businesses and may be able to provide a free energy audit of your buildings.

A ‘Pathway to Net Zero’ resource is being developed. We aim to help congregations wherever they are on the pathway with practical information, case studies, funding opportunities, links and advice from those who have already walked that way.

As part of the Churches Together in Glasgow, the Church of Scotland is playing its role in various activities in Glasgow and also hopefully in your parish. The Church will be represented in the Blue Zone for part of the COP26 by the Moderator of the General Assembly, Lord Wallace, as he has official accreditation with the World Council of Churches. There will be delegates from the World Church in the accredited zone too. However, most of us will be in the fringe zone surrounding the blue and green zone! There will be lots going on there too for people to be part of, opportunities for welcome, prayer and worship every day in many places – an important part of our witness as Christians, including the official COP26 service (by invitation only) in Glasgow Cathedral and live-streamed; opportunities to be part of events including talks and discussions, many which will be live-streamed and you can be part of these from your own home or in a church setting. There will be a climate justice march through Glasgow on Saturday, November 6th, which will have a faiths zone and everyone is encouraged to join. If you live within an hour’s journey of Glasgow, you may want to offer home hospitality to one of the visitors to COP26. If you feel you can do this, then email Audrey Kelly at This is a wonderful opportunity to engage one to one with a visitor to COP26 and hear their story about climate change.