The Church’s General Synod made the decision to set a net-zero date for the end of the decade, supporting an amendment which moved the target 15 years earlier than the 2045 date originally proposed.
The decision makes the Church of England the latest organization to set a target to cut the emissions causing climate change to zero overall.
It will require action such as putting LED lights, insulation and draught-proofing into buildings, moving heating of churches, schools and offices from gas and oil to green electricity, and helping staff and volunteers switch to clean transport.
Pressure is growing on countries, businesses and institutions to set out ambitious action to tackle rising temperatures ahead of crucial UN COP26 talks in the UK in November.
The motion passed by the Synod calls on all parts of the Church of England from parishes to educational institutions and cathedrals to work to achieve year-on-year emissions cuts and urgently examine what is needed to reach net-zero by 2030 so a plan can be drawn up to achieve the target.
Following the net-zero debate, the Bishop of Salisbury, Nick Holtam, who is lead bishop on the environment, said the ambitious target had been set for the Church to respond to the urgency of the climate crisis.
“To reach Synod’s target of 2030, we will each need to hear this as an urgent call to action, but I am encouraged by the statement of intent this makes across the Church, and wider society about our determination to tackle climate change, and safeguard God’s creation.
“This is a social justice issue, which affects the world’s poorest soonest and most severely, and if the Church is to hold others to account, we have to get our own house in order.
“There is no serious doubt that climate change is happening, and that people are causing it, so it is very encouraging that Synod is grappling with the most urgent issues of our time.”
The move has been welcomed by aid agency Christian Aid, whose director of policy and campaigns Patrick Watt said: “It is hugely positive to see the Church of England placing itself at the forefront of action to address the climate emergency.
“As Synod recognized, this will be a challenging target to meet and the Church will need to work hard to meet it, but it will be celebrated by vulnerable people on the front lines of the climate crisis who will see an institution taking the danger seriously and responding to it.”
And he said: “In this year of the UK hosting the crucial COP26 climate summit, the UK Government is being seriously challenged by bold decisions like this.
“Now politicians need to rise to the level of ambition set by the Church and implement policies that ensure the UK decarbonizes its economy well before 2050 while also providing help to those around the world who are most affected by the climate crisis.”