77% of councils have published climate action plans, outlining how they plan to reach net zero. The next step is for them to be held to account on those plans, something churches can play a key role in. Councils themselves are saying that hearing the voices of their communities is essential to carrying out these plans effectively. So how might churches help to bring this about?
Collaboration – One of the most effective ways to lobby anyone is to bring together a broad coalition. By bringing together a range of voices from the community, we can represent a fuller picture of our neighbourhood and benefit from the experiences and perspectives of others. As key community institutions, churches are well placed to organise this kind of collective voice.
Community – Like councils, churches often have a deep understanding of their local area, through relationships built in support services like foodbanks and homeless shelters, or in community groups like youth groups and drop-in mornings. Churches can play a key role in bringing this knowledge of the community together with their concern for justice to ensure that councils’ plans for transition are just, fair and sufficient.
Commitment – Many churches are also doing the work themselves. The Methodist Church in Britain and the United Reformed Church have committed to reaching net zero emissions as denominations by 2030, and there are over 250 Baptist, 400 Methodist, 200 URC and 100 LEP churches registered with Eco Church in the UK.  You can use these facts, and anything you have done in your congregation, to demonstrate your own commitment to environmental action and encourage your council to follow. It shouldn’t have to be the case that individuals and institutions have to lead before government follows, but it certainly helps your case to have made progress on getting your own house in order.
Churches are well placed to start making change for net zero locally. But it’s important to recognise that there may already be networks working on this where you are. If this is the case, you can get stuck in and add your voice to that coalition.
What contribution does our theology make?
Ultimately, everything we do as churches is shaped by the gospel. We have a theology of justice and care for creation that demands we protect the planet and all life within it, and we have a theology of hope, grounded in the resurrection, that keeps us from despair. 
Christians have a mandate to care for the whole of creation, to build a bigger table, to challenge injustice, and to have hope in God’s future.
Because of our concern for justice, Christians should campaign for a renewable energy future that is affordable and sustainable. If anyone is excluded from the transition to net zero, whether by financial means or otherwise, it is not a just transition. We can advocate for our local communities, our global family and for the planet as a whole, refusing to place them in competition with each other.
In Jeremiah 29, the demoralised and dejected Israelites in exile are encouraged not to hunker down and protect themselves from outside influences, but to seek the welfare of the city in which they now found themselves in. In other words, they were encouraged to pursue the peace, prosperity and thriving of the community around them. It is in this context that God gives them the famous promise:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
God’s plan for the future of our planet is not dependent upon how well we treat it. Yet, while we hold on to that plan for a hope and a future, we have a calling in the here and now to do what we can to care for and in our communities.
Is this something you or your church are interested in? Sign up to join our network of activists and hear more about the campaign.
 https://ecochurch.arocha.org.uk/. If you are not already signed up, Eco Church is a great way for your church to start engaging with the climate crisis in its worship, buildings, lifestyles and more.
 https://jpit.uk/hope-in-gods-future-2, Hope In God’s Future: Christian discipleship in the context of climate change. A report of a joint working group on climate change and theology convened by the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church.