More than 3,500 churches have turned their back on fossil fuels to embrace renewable energy. Churches from a range of denominations have either made such a switch or registered their interest in doing so, but Catholics have proved especially keen, according to figures from religious charities released on Thursday. Nearly 2,000 Catholic parishes have forsaken conventional energy in favour of green electricity in 16 dioceses, the charities said. Some made the decision after Pope Francis issued an encyclical last year urging the world to cut its dependence on fossil fuels. Some of the companies benefiting from the churches’ shift are smaller green energy groups such as Ecotricity and Good Energy rather than the larger “big six” suppliers. At least 100 Quaker meeting houses have switched to renewables by dealing directly with seven-year-old Good Energy. The move is part of a wider trend, according to the Energy UK trade association, which represents big six companies as well as smaller groups. “There is a real and increasing demand in the market for an energy supply contract which is based on more renewable sources,” a spokesman said.