Bishop of Norwich’s response to Net Zero statement by PM

On the first day of the parliamentary recess prior to the Party Conferences, the Prime Minister set out his new approach to Net Zero by 2050. On 21 September 2023, The Church of England’s lead bishop on the Environment, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, issued the following Press Release.

Bishop of Norwich responds to Net Zero statement


The Bishop of Norwich has responded to the Prime Minister’s announcement on Net Zero policies.

The Bishop of Norwich, who is the Church of England’s Lead Bishop on the Environment, has issued the following response to the announcement by the Prime Minister on Net Zero policies:

“The Prime Minister’s Net Zero speech calls for a welcome change in the debate from loud polarised voices, but he set out delays in policy before hearing the properly informed debate he called for.

“Whilst it is right that he has kept our international commitments, postponing changes leave necessary adaptations to the last minute, rather like last-minute exam cramming—a risky gamble. Ignoring the ongoing carbon emissions exacerbates climate change’s impact.

“The Prime Minister said we can meet our climate targets without taking the carbon reduction actions the Government had previously announced. We can’t. Decarbonisation must permeate every aspect of our lives.

“Failing to acknowledge the urgency undermines progress, impacting business, investment, green job creation, and global influence.

“We are already seeing the devastating effects of climate change, which is hitting the poorest people of the world hardest. We must act now to ensure a just transition, it is our moral duty to care for God’s creation.

“Christians are called to be a people of hope; to live in harmony with our world; to treasure God’s creation and to love our global neighbours.”

The Church of England has established a Net Zero Carbon programme to support churches across the country in their efforts to reduce their carbon emissions as set out in the RouteMap to Net Zero approved by the General Synod in 2022.

The programme will deploy funding from the Church Commissioners of £30million during 2023-25 increasing to £190million by the end of the decade, to help kickstart many local carbon-reduction schemes.


Whilst the Church’s target year for Net Zero is 2030, the Government’s relaxation on the replacement of gas and oil boilers is unlikely to impact on this target, since this is governed by the Faculty Jurisdiction (Amendment) Rules 2022 and CBC Guidance. As we noted in our 24 September round-up, although the Institute for Government suggested Rishi Sunak’s net zero strategy is not more honest and pragmatic, it agreed with his assertion that just 17 minutes’ debate in the House of Commons on the last carbon budget was “not a responsible way to make decisions which have such a bearing on people’s lives”. There seem to be parallels with events in General Synod on 12 February 2021.

Issues associated with PM’s new approach to Net Zero by 2050 are clearly much broader than our “law ands religion”, and other fora are better placed to discuss the many critical issues raised by others, including: Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons re: not making the announcement in parliament; the government’s Climate Change Committee and others on the impacts of the measures announced by the PM.

Updated: 24 September 2023 at 14:15.

Cite this article as: David Pocklington, "Bishop of Norwich’s response to Net Zero statement by PM" in Law & Religion UK, 21 September 2023,


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