Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham
[Nov. 4, 2016] Today is an historic day! The Paris Climate Agreement will become international law. Currently 96 countries have ratified the agreement, representing just over two-thirds of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The Paris agreement will reduce emissions toward a shared goal of keeping global warming under 2 degrees Celsius, with an aspirational target of no more than 1.5 degrees.
We must begin immediately to “accelerate the momentum” and increase the ambition, according to Christiana Figueres, the former executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. This will be necessary, because so far the emissions reductions pledged by countries are not adequate to keeping warming even to 2 degrees. When asked how we can help, she said, “non-state actors (such as religious denominations, and organizations like IPL) can outline our own strong commitments to achieve a zero-emissions economy.”
Faith groups across the nation have made the Paris Pledge commitment and are responding to the moral call to protect our climate and our planet. Below are just two examples of hundreds of success stories:
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Seattle installed solar panels and saved 29% of its electric bills in the first year. St. Andrew’s has reduced its annual carbon emissions by over seven tons of carbon a year, from 63 tons to 56 tons, an 11% reduction from our baseline.
The Franciscan Renewal Center in Arizona used the Cool Congregations “25 Steps under $25” and worked up to bigger energy efficiency projects such as weatherstripping and replacing 13 of their oldest refrigerators. Their CO2 emissions declined by 27,000 pounds annually!
Has your congregation already taken the Paris Pledge? Has your faith community worked on or planned a project this year to be more energy efficient, use renewable energy, or green your grounds? If so, submit the work you have been doing to potentially win $1,000 in the Cool Congregations Challenge.
Faith communities across the world have responded to the moral call for a safe climate for our children and our grandchildren. Today we can be proud to say that the IPL community is part of the faithful advocating for stronger action from our government, helping to protect the most vulnerable, and making a difference in our community. Global warming is a big problem, but working together we can solve it.Φ
The Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham is President of Interfaith Power & Light, a religious response to global warming.