President Biden re-joined the Paris climate accord – but it’s only the very beginning of what we need to do to get the U.S. and world on track to a truly sustainable future.
The next step is setting ambitious goals and demonstrating real commitment to reduce our country’s carbon pollution, along with support to help the developing world adapt and transition to clean energy. As the world’s richest country and largest historical emitter, we have a moral obligation to support communities suffering the most from a changing climate.
The good news is we have already begun working toward those goals! While the previous administration was rolling back climate protections, we were continuing to reduce emissions in our houses of worship, homes, schools, and other institutions. Some of us have cut our own emissions by half or more already.
All of those efforts should embolden the Biden administration to increase our ambition.
At the U.N. climate conference later this year, other nations will want to see what the world’s largest historic polluter has done since we exited the accord, and what we will pledge to do as we rejoin. Internationally, the fact is current pledges are not sufficient to keep global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius — or even under 2 degrees, the upper limit of the Paris accord. A strong and credible commitment from the U.S. will encourage other countries to step up their own ambition.
Let’s show the world, and the new Biden administration that we, communities of faith and individuals of conscience, have been doing our part. The U.S. will create a new Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) by Earth Day. This commitment will be our country’s pledge to reduce emissions. We need the ambition of that pledge to match the urgency of the climate crisis.
With the U.S. back at the table, we have a chance to avoid climate disaster and protect our children’s future, and all of Creation. But we must have ambition, and faith, to get there.
Read these stories of two exemplary “Beyond Paris” congregations that have already reduced their emissions. They are winners in IPL’s Cool Congregations Challenge. Read more inspiring stories of winners here.
Church of Our Saviour in Arlington, Massachusetts
The rectory of this small church is now saving 15 tons CO2 per year with new heat pumps, with of total savings $1,710 in annual energy costs. Read their story here.
Unitarian Universalist Society, in Coralville, Iowa
They have built the greenest church in Iowa, a LEED certified, Net-Zero building with geothermal, solar, and electric car charging stations. Read their story here.
IPL’s most recent Certified Cool Congregation is a Net Zero Congregation!
St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Davis, California is certified at 100% reduction as a net-zero congregation! Read more here.