The Yorkshire North & East District finalist of the Ashden Awards for climate justice

The Yorkshire North & East Methodist District is one of the five finalists in the category for the People’s Energy in the 2024 Ashden Awards for Climate Solutions for its Tea & PV project and work on climate justice.

15 May 2024

More than 500 organisations applied for the 2024 Ashden Awards and the Yorkshire North & East Methodist District is among 1 of 16 outstanding organisations delivering innovative climate solutions that have reached the finals.

The District covers 200 Methodist Churches across North and East Yorkshire, and with expert advice from Prof Simon Pringle have embarked on an ambitious but achievable journey to Net Zero by 2040, by tackling tariffs, buildings and reducing personal carbon footprints.

Being one of the finalists of the Ashden Award is a recognition of the work started by the District after Synod made its climate commitment in 2020. The District started with 36 detailed technical audits funded by their regional Net Zero Hub (North East, North West, Midlands and South West, Greater South East) which in turn led to the development of the Tea & PV project. Its aim was to learn more about solar (PV) panels and battery storage and how they could reduce Church bills and carbon footprint and share the Net Zero message within the community. To date, 28 churches around the District have had solar panels installed, many with battery storage.

Heat pump pilot projects are also underway and some churches have improved insulation and LED lighting as the Churches across the District respond to the climate emergency.

Geoff Robinson, Renewable Energy Engineer and principal consultant of D3 Associates who delivered 18 of the installations across the District to date, explains ‘Whilst solar panels are just one of the tools in the Net Zero toolkit, and are not always suitable for every building, where they are, they can be hugely beneficial in reducing bills as well as cutting carbon’.

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Tim O’Brien, the District’s Net Zero Officer, managing the District’s Tea and PV project which helps people understand the benefits of local renewable energy, tells us 10 of the churches are now on a solar monitoring system developed by Martin Pascoe of Sundog Consulting. The system shows solar panels installed over the last few months have already generated enough solar energy to brew the equivalent of 1,629,340 cups of tea ‘Enough for one cup of tea for every resident in the two counties.’

Yorkshire North and East Methodist Church continue to progress the Net Zero journey, gaining knowledge of appropriate technical solutions to decarbonize buildings whilst seeking funding to bring projects to fruition. A new Net Zero project within the District has just been awarded £531,525 from the new York and North Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority to help five churches with measures such as LED lighting, insulation, solar and heat pumps, bringing about a carbon dioxide saving of 43CO2 equivalent per annum.

Grant Fundraising Enabler Adele Borrowman says, ‘We are immensely grateful to the advice, funding and support received from so many organisations to date, including The North East and Yorkshire Net Zero Hub, Energy for Tomorrow, Benefact Trust and many more.’

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The PV panels installed on Portholme Church in 2023

Ashden is a UK charity whose mission is to accelerate transformative climate solutions and build a more just world. Through awards and programmes, Ashden promotes and supports climate and energy innovators – including businesses, non-profits and public sector organisations.

Dr Stephen Hall, Ashden’s Head of Awards, says, ‘We’re thrilled with this year’s Ashden Awards finalists. They’re brimming with epic climate ambition – ambition to slash global emissions and transform our world. They’re also pioneers of climate justice, building a world that’s fairer and greener. It’s no surprise to find these two qualities together: when it comes to climate action, they go hand-in-hand.’

‘Change happens faster when more people believe in it, back it, and enjoy the benefits. We’re really proud to celebrate these organisations, and urge investors, funders and policymakers to support them too.’

‘The finalists for all Awards will be judged by international specialists in each award category. The winners will be announced in London in person on the evening of Thurs 27 June, during London Climate Action Week. Winners will receive financial and strategic support.’

The 2024 Ashden Awards will be held during London Climate Action Week on the evening of Thursday 27 June in London.