A Call to Unitarian Universalists: Participate in the October 24 International Day of Climate Action

(July 15, 2009)

The next weeks and months are critical for addressing climate change.

By late September, the Senate climate bill will have passed or failed. Passage is needed to send an empowered and credible US delegation to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, December 7-18, 2009.

The world’s leaders must arrive at that conference with the voices of their people ringing in their ears, calling them to take strong action to lower atmospheric CO2 levels to 350 parts per million (ppm).

Why 350? Scientists generally agree that if we continue to allow the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to top 350 ppm, we can’t sustain a planet similar to the one we know and to which life on Earth is adapted. Currently, the CO2 in the atmosphere measures well above 350 ppm.

350 represents more than just a benchmark for a safe climate – there are deep moral and spiritual reasons for getting back below 350. The 2006 Unitarian Universalist Statement of Conscience on the Threat of Global Warming/Climate Change begins:

“Earth is our home. We are part of this world and its destiny is our own. Life on this planet will be gravely affected unless we embrace new practices, ethics, and values to guide our lives on a warming planet. We declare by this Statement of Conscience that we will not acquiesce to the ongoing degradation and destruction of life that human actions are leaving to our children and grandchildren. We as Unitarian Universalists are called to join with others to halt practices that fuel global warming/climate change, to instigate sustainable alternatives, and to mitigate the impending effects of global warming/climate change with just and ethical responses. As a people of faith, we commit to a renewed reverence for life and respect for the interdependent web of all existence.”

Guided by this Statement of Conscience, UU Ministry for Earth, the UU State Advocacy Networks, the UU-United Nations Office , the UUA Green Sanctuary Program, and the UUA Office for Advocacy and Witness call upon UU congregations to participate in the International Day of Climate Action, October 24.

We do this because we believe our deep Unitarian Universalist commitments to peace, equality, and justice rest ultimately on a safe and sustainable future for life on Earth. By pledging your participation, your UU congregation will join an unprecedented global grassroots call for nations set a bold target of 350 and begin to reduce and mitigate climate disruption immediately.

Please organize an action in your congregation or community on October 24, something that will make the number 350 visible to everyone. People in more than 1000 communities around the globe have already announced plans. There will be school children planting 350 trees in Bangladesh, scientists hanging banners saying 350 on the statues on Easter Island, 350 scuba divers diving underwater at the Great Barrier Reef, and thousands more creative actions like these.

At each event, people will gather for a group photo that depicts 350 and upload that photo to the website www.350.org. As actions take place around the world, all the pictures will be linked via the web—and by the end of the day, a powerful visual petition from the entire planet will be delivered to the media and world leaders.

350.org puts it this way:

“This is like a final exam for human beings. Can we muster the courage, the commitment, and the creativity to set this Earth on a steady course before it’s too late? October 24 will be the joyful, powerful day when we prove it’s possible.”

How to Answer the Call

  1. Add your name to the “Interfaith Call for 350” at www.350.org and get everyone in your community to do the same. Click here to sign your name.
  2. Record your pledge to participate on October 24 by signing up on the UUMFE registry, to receive email updates as UU-related actions and plans evolve.
  3. Pledge your participation on the 350.org website, and identify yourself as a UU! 350.org will soon be unveiling a full set of tools to help you manage your local event and build a strong local climate group in the lead-up to 24 October. To be in the loop, pledge your commitment to participate now. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the details worked out. You can always update this information later. The important thing is to get started organizing in your own community.

Ideas for Events

The possibilities for what actions you organize are endless.

Whatever you choose to do, we ask you to involve your community in some form of action on that day, incorporating the number 350, and as much as possible be creative in planning to make your actions something meaningful and inspirational for all who participate.

UUMFE and 350.org will be here to offer what support and assistance we can.

  • Ring your church bells 350 times, or chant, drum, sing, horn, or publicly sound out 350 in whatever way best fits your congregation
  • Hold a prayer service in a place particularly threatened by climate change
  • Host a community dialogue in your congregation
  • Organize a political demonstration in a public place incorporating your spiritual perspectives on combating climate change
  • Sponsor a service action organized by your community of faith, perhaps helping to make a neighborhood more energy efficient
  • Incorporate some form of art and music can make your event more dramatic, memorable, and meaningful.

Whatever you choose, remember to include the number 350 in some form and document the event with photos and/or video. Images are key in making sure the story of your action will become part of this unique grassroots petition to the leaders of the world.

Resources for congregations

* 350 Action resources

* UUA Statement of Conscience on Global Warming

* UU Ministry for Earth Global Warming Action Kits, Volumes I and 2, $10 each.

* Sing Out! There is a new 350 song by UU minister and Religious Witness for Earth founder, Rev. Fred Small. Download the words and chords or listen to the MP3’s in English and Spanish.

* Share ideas, connect with UUs on the issue of climate change by joining the UUMFE Global Warming List Serv: http://lists.uua.org/mailman/listinfo/globalwarming

* Connect with UU climate advocacy actions in your state: www.uustatenetworks.org.

UU Legislative Ministry of California: http://www.uulmca.org/ Florida Legislative Ministry: http://www.uulmf.org/

UU Legislative Ministry of Maryland: http://www.uulmmd.org/

UU Massachusetts Action Network: http://uumassaction.org/

Michigan UU Social Justice Network: http://www.uujustice.org/

Minnesota UU Social Justice Alliance: http://www.muusja.org/

UU Action Network of New Hampshire: http://www.uuactionnetworknh.org/

UU Legislative Ministry of New Jersey: http://www.uulmnj.org/

Interfaith Impact of New York: http://www.interfaithimpactnys.org/

UU Pennsylvania Legislative Advocacy Network: http://uuplan.org/

Rhode Island UU for Social Change: contact jdglasheen@cox.net

Northern Virginia Legislative UU Priorities Group: http://www.novaluup.org/

Washington State UU Voices for Justice: http://www.uuvoiceswa.org/

Missouri Unitarian Universalist Advocacy Network: contact dmaclove@centurytel.net

* Show the DVD “Renewal.” The UUA Office of Congregational Services Green Sanctuary Program mailed a copy of the interfaith film, “Renewal,” along with a study-guide to all congregations in the Fall. This is great tool to raise awareness about how other faith communities are standing up for the environment and can be used to inspire discussion and action related to environmental justice, climate change education, and participation in the International Day of Climate Action. Learn more about how the film is being used by communities across America to help build the religious-environmental movement at http://renewalproject.net/

* Sign up for the UUA Environmental Justice E-News. Stay up-to-date on the Senate bill on climate legislation and what you can do to insure passage. These organizations are working together. We encourage you to reach out to others in your community to build a sustainable and environmentally just planet for our children and their children.

(June 29, 2009)

350.org and UU Ministry for Earth invite people of all faiths and all traditions to join with us in prayer, meditation, action, and celebration.

First, record your UU congregation’s event here on our website.

Second, register your event with 350.org and sign the “Interfaith Call for 350”:

We come together as people of faith to call on the world’s leaders to commit to decreasing carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in Earth’s atmosphere to below 350 parts per million, the stable and safe upper limit for the world’s people, creatures, and future generations.

Our spiritual traditions teach that we should extend justice and protection to all living beings, including the very least among us. Those most injured by global warming are those who have least caused it: poor people and poor nations. Exceeding 350 parts per million opens a path to suffering that is a betrayal of our vision of justice.

People and other living beings share a common desire for health and happiness and should not be harmed by polluting technologies and by over-consumption of Earth’s resources. History proves that societies and economies that fail to respect ecological limits are doomed.

On behalf of the whole human family, we plead for immediate and forceful action — before “tipping points” of warming take us beyond the edge of no return. At current or increasing levels of CO2 emissions, billions of human lives and two-thirds of living species are imperiled.

We call upon governments and businesses to lead a global transition to safe, clean, renewable, and sustainable forms of energy. Human communities need efficient technologies and decentralized forms of energy production that take us below 350 parts per million of CO2. We need to ensure that efficiency revolution and low-carbon alternatives are available to everyone, including those living in poverty.

As nations prepare for climate treaty negotiations in Copenhagen in December 2009, we ask that each country commit itself to setting us on a path to the 350 goal in its own laws, policies, and budgets, as well as in the treaty negotiations.

We ask each congregation and religious community in wealthier nations to advocate the 350 goal among its members and to its political leaders. We pledge to work with our respective communities to reduce our carbon footprint: in our homes, in our places of business, and in our places of worship. We commit ourselves to action as we ask our leaders to commit to action.

We ask for this commitment on behalf of all who suffer today from global warming and on behalf of future generations.

We ask for this commitment in the hope that together we can serve and protect the health and wellbeing of life on Earth, now and for generations to come.