LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - More than 400 churches in the United Kingdom plan to switch to clean energy providers for their light and heat, shifting spending of 1 million pounds ($1.4 million) to renewables from fossil fuels, two Christian charities said on Wednesday.
The move is part of the Big Church Switch, an initiative launched in February by charities Christian Aid and Tearfund, which urged UK churches and households to use clean sources of energy instead of carbon-emitting fossil fuels.
Their online platform connects those who sign up with energy experts, promising to find them the best renewable deal by negotiating with energy providers.
"As individuals and churches we have a choice in how we treat the earth, how we spend our money, how we power our homes and our buildings," David Walker, the Anglican bishop of Manchester, said in a statement.
"By creating technology which can turn wind and sunshine into clean and renewable energy, humans continue to benefit from the gift of creation. Making the most of this bountiful harvest is a common sense way for us to roll back the ravages of climate change and ensure we are taking an active role in being part of the solution."
Among the 424 churches that have registered with the Big Church Switch is the world's oldest Methodist chapel, The New Room in Bristol, built by John Wesley.
"We may be the oldest Methodist building in the world but that doesn't mean we have to use the polluting energy of the past," David Worthington, manager of The New Room, said in a statement.
"Switching our energy provider to clean sources of power is a simple thing we can do to help the global transition to a low carbon world. If we, in a building as old as ours, can embrace the idea of renewable energy, then anyone can."
Pope Francis, the leader of the 1.2 billion-member Catholic Church, has been outspoken about the need for reductions in carbon emissions to tackle climate change.
He heartened environmentalists around the world in June when he urged immediate action to save the planet from the effects of climate change, declaring that the use of "highly polluting fossil fuels needs to be progressively replaced without delay."
The Church of England has some 16,000 churches, while the Methodists have about 6,000 chapels.
($1 = 0.6945 pounds)
(Reporting by Magdalena Mis, editing by Tim Pearce. Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)