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- undertakes waste management via recycling initiatives
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- undertakes continual improvement to minimize harmful effects on the environment caused by its activities
UUA General Assembly participants offset over 2 million pounds of greenhouse gases with leading carbon offset provider
Boston, MA, August 30, 2006 – The Unitarian Universalist Association and the Carbonfund.org Foundation announced today the results of the UUA’s first-ever carbon offset program. Nearly 1,000 participants in the annual General Assembly meeting in St. Louis in June offset their travel-related greenhouse gas emissions, offsetting over 2 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.
“Offsetting the CO2 footprint of GA participants was a logical next step in the UUA commitment to greening our national meetings, particularly because Unitarian Universalists have been studying the issue of global warming for the past two years in preparation for passage of a powerful Statement of Conscience on The Threat of Global Warming/Climate Change at this year’s meeting,” commented Claudia Kern of Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth which proposed this project to the UUA.
“Global warming is an issue that affects every human being, rich or poor, black or white,” said Carbonfund.org Executive Director Eric M. Carlson. “It is a moral issue that gets to the heart of Creation and our purpose as humans. The actions and decisions we take over the next few years on global warming will impact our world for generations to come. The UUA and their affiliate are providing leadership, vision and action on global warming. We are thrilled to have partners so dedicated to solving our global problems.”
Carbonfund.org, a non-profit organization empowering any individual, business or congregation to reduce its climate impact easily and cost-effectively, calculated the average carbon footprint for participants traveling to St. Louis for the annual event. This included the greenhouse gas emissions from the air travel, and the energy use for hotels and the venue.
Each participant was then given the option to pay an additional $6 to offset their footprint, either during online registration or at the event, and received a Carbonfund.org sticker at the event signifying their pledge. The UUA promoted the initiative in their registration materials, website and throughout the event.
“This was a big step in the right direction as we continue to promote a sustainable environment,” said Jan Sneegas, Director of General Assembly and Conference Services for the UUA. “We are very pleased by the response in this first year and are already contemplating ways we can increase our participation rate next year.”
About the Unitarian Universalist Association
The member congregations of the UUA affirm and promote “respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part,” and witness on behalf of liberal religious values.
About UU Ministry for Earth
UUMFE provides support and resources to individualUUs and their congregations that they may create a healthy, just, and sustainable Earth. In the past four years UUMFE has accredited 50 UU congregations across the country as Green Sanctuaries.
2008: Chamber President Tom Donohue Says ‘Scientific Inquiry’ Into Climate Change ‘Should Continue’ Because Of ‘Cooling Trend.’ [U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 3/4/08] 2001: Chamber Claims Global Warming ‘About One Percent From Human Activity,’ Says ‘Things Just Change.’ [CNNFN, 7/16/01] 1992: Chamber Sponsors Global Warming Denier Pat Michaels To ‘Refute The Global Warming Warnings.’ [Chicago Sun-Times, 5/13/92]The letter argues that any climate solution must defend the US economy and business competitiveness and that they “oppose legislation such as the Waxman-Markey bill that numerous studies show will cause Americans to lose their jobs.” Although, most reports have shown that the Waxman-Markey bill will increase jobs—as much as by 1.9 million jobs, according to a new analysis by economists at University of California, Berkeley. Here’s the full letter, as included in the blog of ABC's Ned Potter:
Dear Mr. Jobs: I am sorry to learn of Apple's resignation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It is unfortunate that your company didn't take the time to understand the Chamber's position on climate and forfeited the opportunity to advance a 21st century approach to climate change. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce continues to support strong federal legislation and a binding international agreement to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change. Furthermore, we believe that Congress should set climate change policy through legislation, rather than having the EPA apply existing environmental statutes that were not created to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. This is also the stated position of the President and Congressional leaders. Your letter states that "Apple is committed to the environment and the communities in which we operate around the world." So is the Chamber but we are also committed to preserving the competitiveness and prosperity of the communities and businesses in our nation. While we do support legislation to address climate change, we oppose legislation such as the Waxman-Markey bill that numerous studies show will cause Americans to lose their jobs and shift greenhouse gas emissions overseas, negating potential climate benefits. An effective climate change response must include all major CO2 emitting economies, promote new technologies, emphasize efficiency, ensure affordable energy for families and businesses, and defend American jobs while returning our economy to prosperity. The American business community that we proudly represent is the single largest investor and innovator in clean energy solutions and remains committed to a strong economy and clean environment. We continue to remind the public and policymakers that it has been the private sector that has developed the innovations that we now take for granted, from the personal computer to the medicines that keep us healthy. The Chamber believes that the business community will continue to be the catalyst for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and we support efforts to tackle climate change in a way that will strengthen our economy, protect American jobs, and benefit our environment. Climate change is a global problem that requires a global solution. The Chamber supports an international agreement that will set realistic and achievable goals, ensure global participation, protect intellectual property rights and remove trade barriers to environmental goods and services. I would have hoped that Apple would have supported our efforts to improve environmental stewardship and keep Americans at work and our economy competitive. As the world's largest business federation representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region, the Chamber is leading the way to support the innovation needed to transition to a lower carbon future, including the elimination of barriers to the deployment of clean energy technologies. Supporting innovation and technology is at the very heart of our efforts to combat climate change, and we will continue to fight for an approach that embraces their merits. It is a shame that Apple will not be part of our efforts.
- China’s efficiency programs alone will reduce over one billion tons of carbon dioxide per year starting 2010 compared to business-as-usual—equivalent to taking 200 million cars off the road.
- China is now a leading innovator in plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
- China’s total wind energy capacity doubled in each of the past four years. This year it will surpass the U.S. as the largest installer of new wind capacity.
- China is also the world’s largest supplier of solar panels, with 40 percent of the world’s market share. Of the world’s top ten solar companies by output, three are Chinese while just one is American.
Ever wonder how large facilities in your state are doing regarding greenhouse gas emissions? The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began collecting greenhouse gas emissions data in 2010 under the congressionally mandated Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Reporting Program. In February 2013, the EPA's program released its second year (2011) of emissions data, which provides public access to emissions data by sector, by greenhouse gas, and by geographic region such as county or state.
The 2011 data includes information from facilities in 41 source categories that emit large quantities of greenhouse gasses. New this year is data collected from 12 additional source categories, including petroleum and natural gas systems and coal mines.
Highlights of findings from the 2011 data include:
- Power plants represent approximately one-third (33 percent) of total U.S. GHG emissions, making them the largest stationary source of GHGs in the country
- 2011 emissions from power plants were roughly 4.6 percent below 2010 emissions, demonstrating an ongoing increase in power generation from natural gas and renewable energy sources
- Refineries represented the third-largest source of GHG emissions, which increased by a half of a percent over 2010 data
- Overall emissions reported from the 29 sources tracked in both years were 3 percent lower in 2011 than in 2010
Transparency is critical to a better environment and the key to conquering climate change. If companies, communities and individuals take a look at how large facilities are doing in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and compare the latest data to national averages, perhaps we can find ways to cut these emissions and begin to curb global warming. Being better informed is also good for the businesses as they may identify opportunities to conserve energy and thereby save money.
Check out how individual large facilities in your state, county, and even zip code perform. Access this data through the Facility Level Information on Green House gases Tool (FLIGHT), which is a web-based data publication tool, or dig deeper through the EPA’s online database Envirofacts that allows information searches via zip code.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) delivered the yearly update of the High-Risk Series report to Congress this week, which officially elevated the threat of climate change. The report contains the greatest threats the government faces in carrying out federal programs, and the GAO is responsible for identifying items such as flaws in the defense contracting process and health care program fraud.
This year the GAO believed it had to highlight the risk from climate change despite some members of Congress’ dismissal or outright denial of global warming. Regardless if some in Congress do not like the move, the GAO is supported by the information coming from the National Academy of Sciences and even from the federal government's own global change research program. The GAO did, however, sidestep the issue of what is causing climate change. Instead they focus on urging lawmakers to prepare, and most of all, budget for more disasters.
The number of disasters in 2012 was above 90, a record number. The federal government’s exposure to the increasing number of disasters from extreme weather brought about by global warming includes owning hundreds of thousands of buildings, the operation of defense installations, financial disaster assistance to local governments, and managing crop and flood insurance programs.
Even if the lawmakers cannot agree on climate change, the fact is that a wide variety of disasters are on the increase and Congress has not planned or budgeted for them. The time for ignoring the issue is past. Hopefully Congress will heed the warnings and begin addressing our country’s part of global warming in a meaningful way. If they do not, the issue may be taken out of their hands. President Obama said in this week’s State of the Union address that, “I urge this Congress to get together, pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change, like the one John McCain and Joe Lieberman worked on together a few years ago. But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.”
According to data recently uncovered from the Energy Information Agency, electricity coming from non-hydroelectric renewable sources (solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass) has doubled in the U.S. to almost 6 percent in a scant four years’ time.
It’s a bit surprising that this significant fact hasn’t been splashed all over the news. Businesses are portrayed as not believing clean energy is worth the investment, but that is simply not true for all. Some companies see the wisdom and fiscal prudence in planning for climate change. The press appears to focus more on manufacturing problems in the sector.
While it is true that the green manufacturing industry is experiencing some growing pains, take solar panel makers for example, it’s worth noting that the green industry is growing overall, and quickly too. China made enormous investments in solar, and they are the face of rising competition. They’ve brought down the price of panels by 65 percent in a mere 18 months. So this leads to fewer and bigger solar manufacturers, which is what happens in all mature industries. However, the explosion of growth in the solar industry comes from the businesses that sell, install, and maintain solar.
Perhaps renewable energy seems like small potatoes since it’s only a fraction of total electricity generation. But the magic is in the industry’s potential for exponential growth. If non-hydro renewables were to double three more times, they would provide nearly half of US electricity needs. That’s more than we get from coal or natural gas right now.
The renewable energy industry’s growth is not just limited to the U.S. either. Countries such as Portugal and Germany have transformed their power grids to generate 25 – 45 percent of their electricity needs from renewable sources.
The big question is if non-hydroelectric renewables can continue to double every four years? Well let’s start by taking a look at what kind of growth would be required to do so. Non-hydro renewables need 19 percent annual growth in order to double every four years. Some sectors grow that much or more. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the solar sector is growing 30 percent annually.
The bottom line is that the payback time for investing in renewable energy is getting faster every day. Wise homeowners, businesses, and governments are ahead of the curve because they see that the future is in renewable sources.