Energy, Global Warming, and Carbon Neutrality

PEC urges all members to take immediate action to reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions through personal lifestyle change, public policy advocacy, and corporate responsibility.

  1. Global Warming Movies: Inconvenient Truth; The Great Warming/Call to Action
  2. “Carbon Neutral” Lives
  3. General Assembly and Carbon Offsets
  4. Hunger, Poverty, and Climate Change
  5. Links and Resources

PEC Recommends Global Warming Movies to Congregations

This fall, Interfaith Power and Light Campaign is collaborating with congregations and religious groups to host screenings of An Inconvenient Truth. For more information, go towww.theregenerationproject.org. For a faith based study guide on The Inconvenient Truth, go to Eco-Justice Ministries. For a movie review by PEC member Burton Froom, click here. For information about the film, go to www.climatecrisis.net.

October-November 2006 Presbyterian churches showed “An Inconvenient Truth” all over the U.S. The following are the churches who informed PRC of their viewing (we know there are many more out there!): Bardstown Road Presbyterian in Louisville, KY; Community Presbyterian in Pittsburg, CA; Knox Presbyterian in Santa Rosa, CA; Montclair Presbyterian in Oakland, CA; St. Andrew Presbyterian in VA; South Presbyterian Church in Bergenfield, NJ; Trinity Presbyterian in St. Joseph, MO; Village Presbyterian in Prairie Village, KS.

A Call to Action campaign kicks off with the release of a new film on climate change called The Great Warming. Presbyterians for Restoring Creation are among the allies on this campaign, and Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk for the Presbyterian Church USA, has signed the statement. The Great Warming educates the viewer about the issue, but it also addresses climate change from a moral, ethical and spiritualpoint of view, and is endorsed by a wide variety of faith-based groups. It opened in the 50 top markets of the Regal Theaters chain on Friday, November 3rd, and includes the faith perspective as part of the call to action. We are hoping that preachers and congregations will use the film as an opportunity to learn more about this issue and take seriously the call to immediate change in our local, state and national policies.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Talk to your pastor about preaching on this topic and adult study opportunities (look under the “For churches and synagogues” link for resources. Check out the website: www.thegreatwarming.com or the link from the PRC website (presbyearthcare.org).
  2. Offer a screening in your church. Contact Chris Gordon, the US distributor about a fundraising opportunity to show the movie in your faith community, and split any proceeds with the distributor. There are some timing limitations, so check ahead before scheduling. Email: thegreatwarming@yahoo.com, Phone 212-396-9464.
  3. Ask questions of Congressional Candidates in your area. Check out the website:www.questionsforcandidates.org which will allow you to ask your candidates about the issue of climate change. Don’t let any candidate duck this issue before the election.
  4. Write letters to support action on Climate Change. Check out the Climate USA website (www.climateusa.org) for suggested letters you can write to your congressional representatives. A hand-written letter is still the gold standard for affecting your representatives.

“Carbon Neutral” Lives

Carbon neutral means neutralizing the negative impacts from one’s personal carbon dioxide emissions. CO2 is a greenhouse gas and contributes significantly to global warming.

It is smaller then the proverbial bread box. It could change our lives, those of our children and billions of people we have never met, all for the better. It could save us money. What is it? It is the commissioners’ resolution passed by the 217th PC USA General Assembly this summer calling on all Presbyterians, Presbyterian institutions and governing bodies to go Carbon Neutral. (Read the resolution: On Calling All Presbyterians to Take Positive and Immediate Steps to Live Carbon Neutral Lives)

“Despite its having received minimal media attention the implications of the General Assembly action, however, are revolutionary,” says John Topping, President of the Climate Institute in Washington, D.C., “This appears to be the first time that a major religious denomination in any nation has called on each of its members to bear witness to their faith by becoming Carbon Neutral.”

What it will cost? After a family of four has implemented energy conservation strategies, the purchase of carbon offsets would cost about $185 per year, which is often deductible from federal and some state income tax and does not include the likely household savings from energy conservation. This breaks down to 12 cents a day per person. This is not very much to spend to help combat climate change impacts.

Click here for the PEC Carbon Neutral Lives brochure
Click here for a sample congregational covenant for going “Carbon Neutral” (from PRC member Dick Shore in Lexington, KY)

Ways to participate:

      1. Calculate your carbon emissions (or those of your school, work place, church, or presbytery) by using a carbon calculator. Try the one at www.co2.org or www.safeclimate.net/calculator.
      2. Reduce your energy usage as much as possible. Rocky Mountain Institute provides great resources for saving energy, including Home Energy Briefs, at www.rmi.org. Suggestions for homes can also be applied to church buildings. Local gas and electric companies often will conduct an energy audit of your home or church. The top three “effective environmental choices” for individuals are related to our transportation, food, and building choices. (Union of Concerned Scientists). Some suggestions include:
        • Eat locally and in season
        • Drive less, combine car trips, choose a fuel efficient vehicle
        • Choose energy efficient appliances and replace lights with compact fluorescent bulbs
        • Weatherstrip your home
      3. Purchase carbon offsets for carbon emissions that can’t be reduced. Purchases can be individual or as a church (through regular budget or special collection). A few companies recommended by Presbyterians for Restoring Creation are listed below. Word of caution — none of these companies are currently regulated. If you choose to purchase carbon offsets through NativeEnergy through the web page listed below, a small part of the proceeds will come back to PRC!
      4. Advocate for policy changes.
        • Hundreds of U.S. cities are working to enact the Kyoto Protocol and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Find out if your city is participating in this effort: www.coolcities.us.
        • Encourage Congress to pass effective, sound energy policies that address root causes and future alternatives.
      5. Join with Others. As is the case in any important work, it is vital to have a community for support, resources, and fellowship. We hope you will join PEC if you are not already a member!

carbon-covenant-logo-thPEC Joins Carbon Covenant – This new partnership helps fight global warming while improving life for those who bear its brunt.  Through this partnership, PEC is sponsoring a project in Cameroon with The Carbon Covenant, a program of Interfaith Power and Light (IPL) that links faith communities in the Global north and south in a common commitment to curb global warming and help mitigate its impact on vulnerable people.

Click here to read an article about carbon neutral in the Christian Science Monitor.

General Assembly and Carbon Offsets

Recent GA Policy (June 2006) on Carbon Neutrality: On Calling All Presbyterians to Take Positive and Immediate Steps to Live Carbon Neutral Lives. PRC is working to form a plan to implement the General Assembly “carbon neutral” policy.

For the past 3 General Assemblies, carbon offsets have been purchased to help offset the carbon emissions from the Assembly. In 2006, the Presbyterian Hunger Program, PRC, the Environmental Justice office, and the Peacemaking Program partnered together to offset 84.3. tons of carbon by investing in a wind and a methane project via NativeEnergy. (Read more here about the 2006 Assembly offset. Read more here about the 2004 Assembly offset.

To learn more about and/or to purchase carbon offsets, PRC recommends NativeEnergyand Bonneville Environmental Foundation.

Hunger, Poverty, and Climate Change

The Presbyterian Hunger Program has created a great new page full of information about the connections between hunger, poverty, and climate change.

Links and Resources