Religious Groups Urged to Go Carbon Neutral

Photo Robyn Purchia
Susan Stephenson, Executive Director of Interfaith Power & Light, and friends at the Oakland rally for climate change. (Photo Robyn Purchia)

Interfaith Power & Light, an organization that offers a religious response to climate change and has provided helpful resources to congregations in the past like the carbon lent calendar, is challenging all congregations within its network to take the “Paris Pledge” and cut their carbon emissions in half by 2030 and become carbon neutral by 2050.

“These are the numbers that many scientists say we need to commit to globally if we’re going to stabilize the climate and avoid warming of over 2 degrees Celsius,” explained Susan Stephenson, Executive Director of IPL.

While some scientists say that just a decrease in 2005 emissions by 80 percent by 2050 is sufficient, IPL wants its congregations to achieve more. “We want to raise the bar and say carbon neutral by 2050,” said Stephenson. “We try to lead the way and be more ambitious than what we simply must do.”

IPL’s challenge followed a busy weekend for climate action. On Sunday, nearly 400,000 people took to the streets in New York City to urge governments to act. The same day, climate rallies, smaller marches, and events were held all over the world. And religious and spiritual leaders committed themselves to action at an interfaith service Sunday night.

The hope among participants is that strong public support will push world leaders to take meaningful climate action in advance of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015 — what some are saying is the last chance to act.

IPL’s challenge promises to ignite a community that is growing in its support for climate action. People of faith often hold themselves to a high standard when it comes to making the world a better place. Perhaps it’s because they try to emulate enlightened leaders like Jesus, Muhammad, and the Buddha. Or perhaps it’s because they constantly strive for righteousness — perhaps both.

Whatever the reason, the faith community has already supported government regulations of carbon pollution, renewable energy, and divestment from fossil fuel companies. Many congregations are working to reduce their carbon emissions through instillation of solar panels, energy efficiency programs, and bicycle and ride-share programs. And, according to Stephenson, 15 to 20 congregations have already taken IPL’s Paris Pledge.

“The more congregations who take the pledge, the more we empower people to take action without waiting for government,” said Stephenson. “But at the same time, we want to keep government accountable and show them this can be done.”

Congregations that are interested in taking the Paris Pledge can sign IPL’s online form. IPL will provide instructional webinars, tools, and resources to these congregations to help them reduce their emissions. The first webinar is planned for late October and more information about taking the Paris Pledge will be available over the next couple of months.

We at EdenKeeper are looking forward to covering all the accomplishments these congregations achieve for the people and the planet.

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About the Author

I'm an organic-eating, energy-saving naturalist who composts and tree hugs in her spare time. I have a background in environmental law, lobbying, and field work. I believe in God; however, I do not call myself a Christian or a Jew or a member of any religion. I am merely someone who finds a spiritual connection to all humans and the environment. You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .