Take Action: Thank Your Mayor For Climate Leadership

While the climate crisis is global, taking action locally is one of the most effective ways to create a lasting impact. The Strengthening Local Climate Commitments (SLCC) campaign is a powerful avenue for UUs to create a just transition through supporting ambitious climate commitments and holding officials accountable through civic engagement and partnership. By working […]

UU Ministry for Earth is grounded in environmental justice, a movement and a framework that arose in the 1970s and 1980s in response to the reality that environmental injustices disproportionately affect communities of color and poor communities.

Environmental justice seeks to center the experiences and leadership of those on the front-lines of environmental injustice and climate change, which calls us to deep awareness about the intersections of race, class, gender, ability, age, and climate. The crisis we are facing as a species is immense, and thus the solutions we work for must be bold and prophetic.

Inspiration and Grounding

UUMFE grounds itself in and draws inspiration from the following sources:

  • Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing: six principles affirmed by a gathering of people of color and white allies as essential for environmental justice organizing
  • Principles of Environmental Justice (PDF): a defining document of the environmental justice movement, crafted by delegates to the 1991 First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit
  • EJ Principles of Working Together (PDF) — Principles of working together adopted at the Second People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit in 2002.
  • Bali Principles of Climate Justice: a set of principles put forward by an international coalition of groups in preparation for the 2002 Earth Summit in Bali to redefine climate change from a human rights and environmental justice perspective
  • The Earth Charter: The Earth Charter is an ethical framework for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful global society in the 21st century. It is a product of a decade-long, worldwide, cross-cultural dialogue on common goals and shared values.
  • Principles of Earth Democracy: ten principles of justice, sustainability, and peace promoted by Vandana Shiva’s concept of “Earth Democracy”
  • Faith Principles on Climate Change (PDF): a 2007 document crafted by the National Council of Churches in partnership with an interfaith coalition, endorsed by the Unitarian Universalist Association and signed by thousands of faith leaders

Intro Resources on Environmental Justice

The following are some of UUMFE’s top sources that provide an introduction to the framework of environmental justice:

Resources for Engaging More Deeply

  • Environmental Justice Practitioner’s Network Webinar Recordings: Webinars organized and hosted by Karen Brammer (Green Sanctuary Program Director) and Aly Tharp (UUMFE Programs Director) provide an opportunity for UU environmental justice practitioners to engage in reflection and education, deepen their faith grounding for environmental justice, and build their skills.
  • Our Place in the Web of Life: a curriculum for UU congregations and teams that offers an introduction to environmental justice, explores the racial, economic, and environmental impact of the congregation, and creates an action plan for deeper accountability
  • Resources for Organizing & Taking Action: tools to support effective, impactful, and spiritually robust organizing and action, grounded in environmental justice and the needs of front-lines communities
  • An extensive collection of additional resources on environmental justice from Energy Justice Network
  • UUA Green Sanctuary Program: For congregational Action. Green Sanctuary provides structure, leadership and support, in broad collaboration, for the UU faith community to engage in an ambitious environmental and climate justice movement that seeks to live fully our seventh and eighth principles and achieve our vision of a sustainable and just world for all.

As people of faith and conscience, it is our moral responsibility to take bold action to bring the web of life back into balance — as individuals, groups of people of faith, and whole congregations. How we take action matters, so this page offers tools to support effective, impactful, and spiritually robust organizing and action.

For resources to ground you and/or your group in the framework of environmental justice, check out UUMFE’s environmental justice framework and resources page.

For congregations

  • UUA Green Sanctuary Program 2030: Mobilizing for Climate Justice
    Green Sanctuary provides structure, leadership and support, in broad collaboration, for the UU faith community to engage in an ambitious environmental and climate justice movement that seeks to live fully our seventh and eighth principles and achieve our vision of a sustainable and just world for all. UU congregations will have the knowledge, resources, and support to engage in an ambitious climate-action and Environmental Justice /Climate Justice movements that seek to honor the interconnected web of life and achieve our vision of a viable and just world for all. Mitigation is essential for climate justice and a livable future with fewer disastrous climate impacts. Mitigation to accomplish a livable and just world needs to reduce global net carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 and to near zero by mid-century.
  • Tools for Congregational Justice Programs
    Top resources for congregational teams from the Unitarian Universalist Association for how to get grounded in a spiritual model, how to build and focus your justice ministry, how to build partnerships, different ways to take action and deepen engagement.

For individuals or small groups

  • Organizing for Power, Organizing for Change resources
    A comprehensive collection of tools and other resources for organizers and trainers on everything from planning actions to building strong coalitions to incorporating art and music into your organizing.
  • Praxis Makes Perfect resources for organizers
    A powerful library of tools compiled by Joshua Kahn Russell on civil disobedience, organizing and strategizing, facilitation, media, outreach, fundraising, and more, as well as recommended readings on environmental justice.

UU circles of practice and Facebook groups

UU groups for organizing around particular topics

UU Ministry for Earth is your go-to source for actions, tools, stories, and connection to the global environmental justice movement. Explore the major issue areas UUMFE focuses on, using a racial and economic justice-informed framework of environmental justice.

Climate Change

Photo by Peter Bowden. Image shows a large, interfaith gathering in resistance to the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline.
Photo by Peter Bowden. Image shows a large, interfaith gathering in resistance to the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline.

There’s no denying that climate change is happening, and is human-caused. There’s also no denying that those on the front-lines of the climate crisis are among those who have contributed least to creating the problem, such as island nations, Indigenous peoples, and those who directly depend on the land for sustenance.

Top links:

Recommended sources for action:

Recommended sources for climate change info:


Ecology & Rights of Nature

Ecosystems are communities of interacting living beings and natural systems, and the Rights of Nature is a framework for respecting the rights of “all beings to the freedom they require to realize their full potential in the larger web of existence.” This calls us to work for ecosystem conservation and restoration, biodiversity, clean air and water, and the rights of animals.

Top Links:

  • World Wildlife Fund 2016 Living Planet Report: global populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles declined by 58% between 1970 and 2012. This report details these findings, and actions needed to preserve & restore biodiversity.
  • What is “Rights of Nature”?: a great summary of the Rights of Nature framework with links to additional resources, from the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature, a global network of organizations and individuals committed to supporting legal systems that recognize, respect, and enforce Rights of Nature

Recommended sources for info and action:


Food Justice

Food justice involves ensuring that all people have access to nutritious food, that those who work in the food industry are free from exploitation and earn a living wage, and that food is grown, sourced, and consumed in ethical ways.

Top links:

Recommended sources for info and action:


Front-Lines Solidarity

Joe Brusky via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

An environmental justice framework centers the needs, voices, and leadership of those who are most disproportionately affected by environmental degradation and climate change, including Indigenous and low-income peoples, people of color, island nations, and youth.

Top links:

Recommended sources for info and action:


Social Justice & Human Rights

When cultures value profit over people, those who are already marginalized suffer the worst effects: from water and air pollution to toxic waste disposal to natural disasters to forced migration due to droughts, floods, and other climate impacts.

Top links:

Recommended sources for info and action:



Francesco Pasqualetti via Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Sustainability means living within the ecological limits of the Earth’s ability to regenerate, meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations. Pollution, overconsumption, poverty, escalating inequality, habitat loss and biodiversity decline, and climate change all make our current global society fundamentally unsustainable.

Top links:

Recommended sources for info and action:


Many Unitarian Universalist congregations hold film screenings in order to engage members and/or the wider community in environmental justice education. This is a list of films to inspire education, reflection, discussion, and action on climate change, activism and resistance, energy, ecosystems, food systems, and more, listed chronologically.

Many of these films are available for viewing online (just do an internet search for the title). You can also check out Top Documentary Films—“the world’s greatest free documentary library”—to view many environmental and nature films online.


The Reluctant Radical – Lindsey Grayzel, producer, director (77 min, 2018)

  • Film website –  We are excited to announce that the movie is now available for viewing online via Vimeo On Demand, iTunes, Amazon and Google Play. The DVD can be purchased on the web site.
  • Review The Portland Mercury
  • Toolkit for hosting a screening
  • NOTE: UU congregations receive a 20% discount on Reluctant Radical film screenings! More information here.

The Condor and the Eagle – Clement Guerra and Sophie Guerra, directors; UUMFE co-producer (90 min, 2019)

  • Film website –  We are honored to be a co-producer of this film! UUMFE will be screening this film twice a month through the end of 2020. See below for toolkit.
  • Review The Sad Mag
  • Toolkit for hosting/joining a screening


Age of Consequences – Jared P. Scott, director, producer, writer (80 min, 2017)

Planet Earth II – David Attenborough, director (360 min, 2017)

Seed: The Untold Story – featuring Vandana Shiva and Dr. Jane Goodall, directed by Taggart Siegel (94 min, 2017)

A Plastic Ocean – featuring Craig Leeson and Tanya Streeter, directed by Craig Leeson (100 min, 2017)

Before the Flood – Fisher Stevens, director (96 min, 2017)

Years of Living Dangerously, Season 2 – Joel Bach, David Gelber, directors (410 min, 2017); Season 1 (727 min, 2014)

How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change – Josh Fox, director (128 min, 2016)

This Changes Everything – Avi Lewis, director (89 min, 2016)

Racing Extinction – featuring Elon Musk, Louie Psihoyos and Jane Goodall, directed by Louie Psihoyos (103 min, 2016)

The True Cost – featuring Rick Ridgeway, Tim Kasser, and Vandana Shiva, directed by Andrew Morgan (92 min, 2015)

Groundswell Rising: Protecting Our Children’s Air and Water – directed and produced by Renard Cohen (70 min, 2014)

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret – Kip Anderson and Keegan Kuhn, filmmakers (91 min, 2014)

The Wisdom to Survive: Climate Change, Capitalism & Communitydirected by John Ankele and Anne Macksoud (56 min, 2013)

Bidder 70 – featuring Tim DeChristopher, Robert Redford, James Hansen, and more; directed by Beth and George Gage (73 min, 2013)

Chasing Ice – featuring photographer James Balog; directed by Jeff Orlowski; 2014 Emmy award winner (73 min, 2012)

Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives – directed by Jeffrey M. Smith (85 min, 2012)

Forks Over Knives – featuring T. Colin Campbell and Caldwell B. Esselstyn (90 min, 2011)

Dirty Business: “Clean Coal” and the Battle for Our Energy Future – directed by Peter Bull (90 and 60 min. versions, 2011).

Revenge of the Electric Car – featuring Tim Robbins and Bob Lutz; directed by Chris Paine (90 min, 2011)

Queen of the Sun: What Are the Bees Telling Us? – featuring Michael Polan and Gunther Hauck; directed by Taggart Siegel (82 min, 2010)

Deep Green: Solutions to Stop Global Warming Now – contributors Michael Pollan, Lester Brown, Amory Lovins, Dr. David Suzuki; directed by Matthew Briggs (101 min, 2010)

Dirt! The Movie – featuring Jamie Lee Curtis; directed by Bill Benenson and Gene Roscow (80 min, 2009)

Ingredients: The Local Food Movement Takes Root ­– featuring Robert Bates; directed by Robert Bates (67 min, 2009)

Fresh – featuring Joel Salatin and Will Allen; directed by Ana Sophia Joanes (72 min, 2009)

The Cove: Man Is Their Greatest Threat and Their Only Hope – featuring Richard O’Barry and Louis Phihoyos; directed by Louis Phihoyos (92 min, 2008)

Food, Inc. – featuring Eric Schlosser; directed by Robert Kenner; nominated for Academy Award (91 min, 2008)

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