dave-anderson-head-shotby Dave Anderson.

Like many of us, I was impressed (and depressed!) by the climate change information in Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” when it came out 10 years ago. The film hit me on an intellectual level, but not emotionally in the gut. However, after reading some of Catholic theologian Thomas Berry’s deeply spiritual writing about the sacredness of the earth and all life forms, I felt moved to do something, to try to make a difference in my personal life and, if possible, in the larger sphere. Last year, I started attending the meetings of the Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions-UUCF group (recently renamed the UUCF Climate Action Group) and much of the discussion centered on action versus talk. It’s easy to sit around and talk about the challenges of climate change, but it’s much harder to identify and sustain meaningful action, and make a difference, even just a small one.

Last fall, we were greatly encouraged by the agreement reached at the Climate Conference in Paris. We also thought that if 195 countries can get together and negotiate a set of goals on global warming, then maybe we could find some meaningful action to take within our UUCF community. At that time, we learned about a new initiative called “Paris Pledge” that was focusing action within religious communities. We immediately became excited about the prospect of adopting this pledge at UUCF.

UUCF’s Paris Pledge is quite simple in concept. It basically says that UUCF supports the goals of the Paris Accord and will act to achieve these goals within our community. The goals involve reducing the carbon dioxide sent into the atmosphere from UUCF’s use of electricity and natural gas. Notwithstanding the “climate deniers,” there is broad scientific agreement about the direct correlation between CO2 emissions and global climate change.

UUCF’s specific Paris Pledge goals are:

  • Reduce our CO2 emissions by 50% by 2030, and
  • Achieve a state of “net zero” CO2 emissions for UUCF by 2050.

Over the last 9 months, the Climate Action Group has worked with numerous groups within UUCF to build initial support and launch the projects that will enable us to reduce our CO2 emissions dramatically over time. Some of these projects require up-front investments, but many will pay for themselves relatively quickly in terms of lower operating costs.

We’re grateful for the support of the Social Justice Council, the Property Stewardship Council, the UUCF staff and the Coordinating Team. Earlier this year, we engaged a professional energy consultant to complete an updated energy audit. At this point, we are well along in planning a broad-based LED lighting project that we believe will reduce our related electrical costs by over 50%.

Now that we’ve laid the foundation for progress on Paris Pledge, we will work to build awareness and participation throughout the UUCF community during the next few months. Starting yesterday, we will have a Paris Pledge table in the Commons on Sundays and will have materials providing details about our projects and status. Soon we will launch a page on uucf.org where anyone can see our progress toward meeting these worthy goals. We have some additional programs related to Paris Pledge that we will roll out later this fall. We’re hopeful that our progress at UUCF will also encourage all of us to think about ways we can be more mindful about our energy use in the other areas of our lives.