We are currently watching as world leaders gather in Glasgow, Scotland, for the COP26 summit, a global United Nations conference that brings parties together with a goal of addressing climate change. Among the issues being discussed is limiting global warming, which is on track to rise 2-3 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
Some of the commitments made in Glasgow could directly impact our daily lives. And while nations consider their willingness to commit to “net zero-emissions,” it takes a collective effort to protect the planet, and we can all be thinking about ways to reduce our carbon footprint. Settings of the United Church of Christ (UCC) are already doing just that.
This past year, the UCC Board decided to sell the UCC national office’s current nine-story building in Cleveland, home to the national UCC ministries for over 30 years, and move to the modern AECOM building a few blocks away, consolidating all of the ministries entirely to one floor. In the U.S., residential and commercial buildings account for 40 percent of energy consumption. Therefore, this move will significantly help reduce the national office’s carbon emissions.
Moreover, the national staff will continue a remote or hybrid work model, further reducing carbon emissions through reduced travel and lower utility costs for lighting, heating and AC. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that by working remotely, workers in the U.S. can avoid emitting 3.5 million tons of greenhouse gasses every year.
At the 33rd General Synod in July, the Cornerstone Fund, a financial ministry of the UCC that provides low-cost financing and investment options to UCC churches, announced the Creation Care Loan Program. This program – funded by the National setting, the Wisconsin Conference and the Council for Health & Human Service Ministries – is specifically dedicated to environmental justice efforts and allows Cornerstone to offer lower subsidized loan rates to UCC affiliates. The program is already in effect, allowing, for example, Christ UCC Church in Dupo, Illinois, to install solar panels via a $79,000 loan. Christ UCC joins hundreds of other UCC churches that have installed solar panels at their churches, dramatically reducing their carbon footprint.
Across the country, many UCC churches have taken steps to become more energy-efficient and zero-carbon churches. Many have joined the Cool Congregations program and are preventing global warming by switching to renewable energy, upgrading the insulation systems and using energy-efficient light bulbs.
Several United Church Funds (UCF) clients have also taken concrete actions related to climate justice:
As a faith-based and values-aligned investor, UCF is proud to continue our mission of managing our clients’ investments in environmentally responsible ways and actively collaborating with our clients and partners to help achieve climate justice.
UCF is proud of our efforts and legacy of bringing climate-saving solutions to the marketplace and our investors. Yet we also recognize that so much more needs to be done. We want to see more corporations across the globe take concrete action to protect our planet. Therefore, we will continue to engage and collaborate with our partners and investors to create positive and lasting change for our planet and protect Creation.