A Carbon Neutral Kirchentag

First let me make some remarks regarding the energy situation of the Protestant Churches in Germany generally. The following figures will show you the dimension, which the different churches (Landeskirchen) and their social welfare organisations in the field of energy consumption have. A project financed by the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (German Environmental Foundation) made it possible to look at the status and to estimate the energy consumption in the field of heating and electricity very roughly (the figures are from 1995, before unification). Churches are a big consumer (heavy user):

In about 90.000 buildings from the lake of Konstanz in the South to the Danish Border in the North it consumed 11.450 Gigawatt for heating (that is about 1.1 Billion litres of Oil) and 2 Billion kWh a year for electricity. All together the churches are responsible for more than 5 Mill. tons of CO2. That is more than the entire emissions of Bolivia.

On the other hand this huge amount of energy consumption shows the potential of saving. Referring to the prices of that time the economic saving potential was around 37 % (today it would be much higher). To put the climate protection scenario into practice including insulation churches could save more than 50 per cent or 200 Mill. Euro per annum. One forthcoming practical proposal without any investment was to move for the service during wintertime from the church to the parish hall. That would save all over Germany about 30 Million Euros.

After publishing the results of the project, the public recognized the relevance of the churches as a big player and the DBU financed the “100 church roofs for solar energy” program which in the end it involved more than hundred roofs.

Besides that I will briefly inform you about the activities of the German Kirchentag. The Kirchentag takes place each second year in another town. 2003 the Kirchentag was in Berlin, 2005 in Hannover. Next year it will take place in Köln. In the average between 100.000 and 120.000 participants come together for 4 days. The environmental committee of the Kirchentag, whose speaker I am, is asked to green the event and the organisation itself. Regarding the field of energy I like to tell you, what we reached in the last years:

  • Certification according to EMAS of the two offices in Fulda and in the place of the Kirchentag. The certification of the event itself is in the pipeline.
  • Energy-saving through partly insulation in Fulda and non invested steps.
  • Purchasing green electricity for the offices and the event itself on the exhibition centre
  • Efficient driving lessons for the voluntary drivers during the Kirchentag (100 vehicles are rented)

Till now since Berlin we practise an environmental controlling. One result are the estimated CO2 emissions – including everything, also the travelling of all participants: 8000 t of CO2. about 90 % is caused by all means of motorised transport(railway, buses, flights, cars). Last year we saved - say better equalize - about 14 % through:

  • The using of renewable energies: installation of a PV – panel on the roof in Fulda and an investment in a windmill near Erfurt
  • Paying compensation for 400 t CO2 for air traffic (flights from speakers from abroad)
  • Purchasing of green electricity (“Lichtblick”)

Looking forward to Köln our next task will be to shift the modal split of the motorised individual traffic under 20 % through a project focusing sustainable mobility culture.

Our ambitious aim and objective is still to have an event with zero emission (through equalizing the incurred emissions).

I hope I made you curious to visit the Kirchentag next year (6.- 10- Jun 2007)

Jobst Kraus, program director in the department of environmental politics and sustainable development at the Protestant Academy of Bad Boll/Germany
This centre is certificated according EMAS plus and has its own PV and Cogeneration

Visit the websites at www.ev-akademie-boll.de and www.kirchentag.de