Archbishop Stephen Cottrell said the idea was under consideration as part of the Church of England’s efforts to reach net zero by 2030 as he spoke at a Christian Aid event at the University of York discussing religious responses to climate change.
It comes after plans were unveiled earlier this year to install solar panels on the site of the former York Minster school which is due to be refurbished into a new refectory.
Cottrell was asked by an audience member whether more church buildings across the country, particularly those with south-facing roofs, should install solar panels.
“The short answer is yes,” he said. “The Church of England a few years ago made a commitment to be net carbon zero by 2030 which is a very, very ambitious and bold commitment ahead of all the other commitments that governments and nations have made, because we felt that if we were to have any credibility trying to speak authentically to this debate we had to be seen to acting.
“York Minster itself is looking into that and certainly where I do live at Bishopthorpe Palace just down the road we're looking into solar panels on the roof.”
Archbishop Cottrell said there are some challenges, given many church buildings are of a large proportion and some are Grade I listed.
“It's not our building in quite the same way as a house. But we’re determined to find ways of doing that.
“In many of our villages churches which already have a very low carbon footprint, it is as simple as changing to LED lights - that can make a massive difference. Obviously that isn’t true for York Minster.
“In some of our rural parishes, ground source heating is the other thing we are looking to put into all of our vicarages.
“It is a huge, ambitious and pretty terrifying programme. And I don't know what we'll get there by 2030. But if we get a long way towards this it will be a significant achievement.”
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