Presbyterian Church USA Asks
2.3 Million Members To Become
Carbon Neutral.................... 2
Iceland\u2019s President Grimsson:
Leading Iceland\u2019s 3rd Clean
Energy Revolution.................. 7
Campuses Leading The Way ... 8 2006 Summer Interns................ 9 Climate Institute News............. 11
When the Climate Institute was set up in the summer o\ue004 1986 as the \ue002rst climate protection organization on our planet the
idea that climate change could destabilize human society was a notion shared only by a \ue004ew climate scientists and policy wonks. Te Washington Post Federal Page greeted our arrival on the scene as \u201ccheerleaders \ue004or the greenhouse e\ue001ect\u201d--- much as the Style Section might have viewed a convention o\ue004 \ue003rekkies.
Yet in the next \ue004ew years climate change became prominent on the international policy agenda. Te Institute played some role in this, organizing the \ue002rst broad -based climate con\ue004erence in North America in 1987, meetings \ue004or diplomats in Washington and at the UN the next
year, and a major international climate con\ue004erence in Cairo in December 1989. Six weeks a\ue004ter the Cairo Con\ue004erence, drawing on the Cairo Compact, the Institute assembled a three- day conclave o\ue004 scientists, lawyers and stakeholders to dra\ue004t a model Framework Convention. Te product o\ue004 this workshop disseminated to delegates to an IPCC meeting occurring that week on the Georgetown campus presaged the Framework Convention on Climate Change signed 28 months later in Rio de Janeiro. In the \ue002\ue004teen months be\ue004ore the Rio Earth Summit the Institute organized brie\ue002ngs \ue004or heads o\ue004 state and ministers in twenty nations and prepared and distributed slide sets in 11 languages. Te Institute could take some momentary satis\ue004action when the largest gathering ever
Already it was immersed in organizing country studies on climate change in eight Asian nations whose people together made up a \ue004ourth o\ue004 humankind. Tis e\ue001ort that involved sixty experts \ue004rom a dozen nations nearly broke the back o\ue004 the Institute \ue002nancially but it did lead Philippine President Fidel Ramos to convene an Asia Paci\ue002c Leaders Summit on Climate Change, a meeting the Institute helped to organize. Te Manila Declaration that emerged \ue004rom that meeting embraced the idea o\ue004 an international private public partnership to speed greenhouse benign technologies.
Te Global Sustainable Energy Islands Initiative (GSEII) is a consortium o\ue004 international NGOs and multi-lateral institutions created to introduce renewable energy plans to SIDS (Small Island Developing States). Currently dependent on \ue004ossil \ue004uel imports, many islands are trapped in the cycle o\ue004 poverty due to high-energy prices. Renewable energy allows \ue004or not only energy independence, but also promotes socioeconomic development and encourages private investment and trade. GSEII \ue004ocuses
extremely vulnerable to climate change, but they can also serve as examples \ue004or bigger industrial nations that need to cut their GHG emissions. Since its origin, GSEII has teamed with United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to ensure implementation by \ue004ocusing on capacity- building plans.
event at the United Nations Session o\ue004 the Commission on Sustainable Development in New York City. Tis event served as a \ue004orum \ue004or SIDS representatives and the international community to exchange experiences with sustainable energy plans. Te \ue004orum\u2019s take home message was island nations\u2019 sustainable energy plans could be success\ue004ul with strong leadership, a \ue004ocused plan, and a collective action approach.
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n a stunning development the Presbyterian Church USA, (PCUSA) one o\ue004 the more conservative o\ue004 the mainstream US Protestant denominations, has asked its 2.3 million members each to \u201cmake a bold witness by aspiring to carbon neutral lives. (Carbon neutrality requires our energy consumption that releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere be reduced and carbon o\ue001sets purchased to compensate \ue004or those carbon emissions that could not be eliminated.)\u201d Te PCUSA\u2019s biennial General Assembly meeting in Birmingham, Alabama passed this resolution in late June. During a meeting marked by some contentious discussions and debates concerning such social issues as roles o\ue004 gays in the clergy and abortion the resolution sailed through on the Floor o\ue004 the General Assembly on the consent calendar a\ue004ter being endorsed by the Social Justice Committee by a 55-3 margin with three abstentions.
Te resolution advanced by two General Assembly Commissioners, Bob Crabtree o\ue004 Florida and Dale Francis o\ue004 Lake Erie, endorsed the key recommendation o\ue004 a ten member PCUSA Energy Resolution \ue003ask Force led by Pamela McVety o\ue004 \ue003allahassee, Florida. Set up in 2004 by the PCUSA to carry out the \ue002rst comprehensive assessment o\ue004 Church energy policy in a quarter century, the volunteer \ue003ask Force o\ue004 laypeople conducted meetings in Washington, DC, San Francisco and Louisville in which they met with energy experts and Presbyterian and other Church members.
Te \ue003ask Force had strong bipartisan representation including two \ue004ormer senior environmental o\ue000cials in Republican administrations - Jananne (Jan) Sharpless, o\ue004 Sacramento, Cali\ue004ornia and John \ue003opping o\ue004 Washington, DC. Sharpless served as Secretary o\ue004 the Environment o\ue004 Cali\ue004ornia and Chair o\ue004 the Cali\ue004ornia Air Resources Board and later as a Member o\ue004 the Cali\ue004ornia Energy Commission. \ue003opping served as Sta\ue001 Director o\ue004 the O\ue000ce o\ue004 Air and Radiation o\ue004 the US Environmental Protection Agency during the Reagan Administration immediately be\ue004ore setting up the Climate Institute. McVety, the \ue003ask Force Moderator or leader, had been a Deputy Administrator o\ue004 the Florida Department o\ue004 the Environment under Democratic Governor Lawton Chiles be\ue004ore her retirement. Te other seven members included Dr. Frank Gilliam, a biology pro\ue004essor at Marshall University in Indiana; Dr. Richard Shore, a zoology pro\ue004essor at St. Catherine\u2019s College and
industrial engineer and environmental lecturer \ue004rom Kentucky; two attorneys \ue004rom Arizona, Donna Bradley and Paige Murphy \u2013 Brown, also a biologist; Douglas Hooker, a transportation engineer \ue004rom Georgia; Sarah Kinney, a graduate student in conservation biology \ue004rom Wyoming who had studied extensively the PCUSA\u2019s social justice activities; and Claudia Brown, a writer and active Church laywoman \ue004rom Pennsylvania.
Convinced that the Presbyterian Church and numerous other denominations have issued reams o\ue004 pronouncements on energy and world a\ue001airs, o\ue004ten with little e\ue001ect other than the carbon sequestration involved i\ue004 the resolutions ended up in a \ue002le cabinet, the McVety-led \ue003ask Force decided to take a very di\ue001erent tack. Tey reasoned that the one thing that Churches could do that would make a di\ue001erence was to bear witness to their commitment to \u201cpreserving God\u2019s Creation\u201d by reducing their own emissions and asking their members to do the same. In its Background Paper the \ue003ask Force discussed the Role o\ue004 the Churches in the Anti- Slavery and Civil Rights Movements, stepping \ue004orward to set a moral example while political leaders hesitated. Te proposed Energy Resolution had a remarkably nonpartisan tone, avoiding the Bush- bashing or extensive discussions o\ue004 Middle East politics that have characterized some energy discussions.
Generally the Presbyterian Church USA has a laity that tends to the right o\ue004 center in US politics. Church surveys o\ue004 PCUSA laity\u2019s political sel\ue004 identi\ue002cation have tended to show that about hal\ue004 o\ue004 Church members identi\ue004y themselves as Republicans, about a quarter as Democrats and about a quarter as Independents. Ironically the stumbling block to this dramatic call \ue004or all Presbyterians to bear witness to their \ue004aith by becoming Carbon Neutral did not come \ue004rom conservative members. Instead the Church\u2019s Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) to which the Energy Resolution \ue003ask Force was re\ue004erred did not agree with its moderate tone. ACSWP has developed a strong le\ue004t o\ue004 center political leaning, thrusting the PCUSA into such political thickets as resolutions calling \ue004or divestment o\ue004 PCUSA \ue004unds \ue004rom \ue002rms involved in some activities in Israel. Te Energy Resolution \ue003ask Force\u2019s emphasis on personal responsibility rather than geopolitical issues such as the war in the Middle East was enough \ue004or ACSWP to vote not to release the work o\ue004 the \ue003ask Force and delay consideration o\ue004 Presbyterian action on energy or climate until the General Assembly meeting in 2008.
McVety and others were stunned by this decision and \ue004elt that Presbyterians needed to act now to address climate change given its overwhelming urgency. McVety contacted top o\ue000cials in the Church and \ue004ound that they shared this view that the climate crisis was something that the Presbyterian Church could not wait to aggressively address. She learned that the General Assembly, the church\u2019s rulemaking body that meets biennially, could bypass intermediary bodies such as the ACSWP through a resolution by its commissioners. Working with colleagues in Florida and on the \ue003ask Force, she located two Commissioners to the General Assembly who were willing to champion a call \ue004or Presbyterians to become Carbon Neutral. McVety also garnered the active support o\ue004 Presbyterians \ue004or Restoring Creation, a body that has pressed the Church to take a lead on environmental protection challenges. She designed a \ue004an
Tis idea had been hatched a \ue004ew months earlier by a dozen energy and policy experts \ue004rom Asia and North America assembled by the Institute at the request o\ue004 an Asian Green Parliamentarians group. Soon a\ue004ter the Manila Summit the Climate Institute published the prescient study by Dr. Norman Myers- Environmental Exodus: An Emergent Challenge in the Global Arena.
Just as the Climate Institute began its second decade storm clouds were emerging to dampen any euphoria over the seemingly phenomenal progress o\ue004 the previous decade in climate protection. Te Berlin Mandate that governed the Kyoto negotiations virtually ensured that any resulting protocol would be dead on arrival in the US Senate. Breaking \ue004rom most o\ue004 our brethren in the environmental movement, the Institute warned o\ue004 the risk that we could \ue002nd ourselves with an environmental League o\ue004 Nations with the country that is both the source o\ue004 the largest share o\ue004 global emissions and the world\u2019s most power\ue004ul economy on the sidelines. Te provision o\ue004 the Berlin Mandate giving developing countries a bye in the \ue002rst round o\ue004 Kyoto, while justi\ue002able perhaps because o\ue004 a wide disparity in per capita emissions between industrial and developing nations, proved a poison pill in the US Senate causing a 95-0 vote be\ue004ore Kyoto opposing any protocol not applying to developing nations. In addition, while the sharp divisions at Kyoto were papered over just in time to salvage an agreement, there was not time to incorporate any en\ue004orcement mechanism. Te practical e\ue001ect is that industrial nations that have rati\ue002ed Kyoto \ue004ace no external sanctions should they miss the emission targets. Te only real teeth in Kyoto come through the European Union\u2019s en\ue004orcing commitments by its own members. Tis still is a signi\ue002cant accomplishment. As a result o\ue004 the EU\u2019s greenhouse emission trading system there is an established market \ue004or carbon reductions and some o\ue004 the costs to the global environment o\ue004 burning carbon are being \ue004actored into investment decisions.
It is becoming clear, however, that we will need something \ue004ar more ambitious than the Kyoto mechanisms i\ue004 the world is to meet the climate change challenge. Sadly, the greenhouse skeptics and contrarians are wrong and spectacularly so- the world\u2019s climate is changing and at a rate greater than any o\ue004 us thought when we set up the Climate Institute. Some o\ue004 this is driven by positive developments such as the rapid growth o\ue004 economies o\ue004 developing countries such as China and India. Yet there seems a rise in the atmospheric concentration o\ue004 CO2 that is past that attributable to changes in energy or to shedding o\ue004 \ue004orest cover. It may well be that we are already experiencing positive \ue004eedbacks as warming begets more warming. Tis may be due to any o\ue004 a number o\ue004 sources- shrinking ice cover in the Arctic and other regions reducing the volume o\ue004 sunlight refected back into space, release o\ue004 methane \ue004rom the tundra as perma\ue004rost thaws, perhaps even a saturation o\ue004 the oceans with a lower proportion o\ue004 CO2 being sequestered in the deep oceans.
Tere is a real chance o\ue004 the rapid climate change underway spiraling out o\ue004 control with devastating implications \ue004or humanity and countless other species. One day o\ue004 the Washington Summit on Climate Stabilization seeks to provide a snapshot o\ue004 the best, current scienti\ue002c understanding o\ue004 what is at risk. Important as it is to enhance our understanding o\ue004 the science o\ue004 climate change, evidence gathers that rapid climate change is likely to pose many rude surprises that may be missed by even the most sophisticated
models. Moreover, ocean acidi\ue002cation as carbon dioxide builds up in the oceans may have as grave an e\ue001ect as the rising atmospheric concentration o\ue004 CO2. One o\ue004 the most respected o\ue004 world climate scientists, Jim Hansen, Director o\ue004 NASA\u2019s Goddard Institute \ue004or Space Studies, has indicated his personal view that we have only about another decade be\ue004ore change may overwhelm our capacity to respond.
Dire as some o\ue004 these trends seem, they are not inevitable. Some encouraging signs are already underway that the global concentration o\ue004 greenhouse gases may be stabilized in the li\ue004etime o\ue004 many who are adults today. I\ue004 these strands can be threaded together into a sel\ue004 -rein\ue004orcing process the world will be much more prosperous and \ue004uture generations will appreciate that we had the wisdom and moral courage to meet the climate challenge. Signs o\ue004 progress abound on many \ue004ronts and some are being highlighted at the Washington Summit:
+ Iceland, once one o\ue004 the poorer countries o\ue004 Northern Europe, has leveraged its resources o\ue004 geothermal and hydro to become a world leader in clean energy. It now has the sixth highest per capita income in the world.
+ Denmark has leveraged the wind energy that grew up in its agricultural cooperatives to rise to world leadership in export o\ue004 wind turbines.
+ Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems have yielded large- scale savings in such Northern European nations as Finland, Denmark and the Netherlands.
+ Tree small island nations in the Caribbean-St. Lucia, Dominica and Grenada-are making real strides in their e\ue001orts to develop lower carbon based economies. Tey have a dual motivation - to show more populous countries that endangered island states are still willing to do their part to limit greenhouse emissions and also to \ue002nd indigenous substitutes \ue004or their expensive electricity generated \ue004rom imported diesel \ue004uel. Several other countries seem ready to \ue004ollow suit-St. Kitts & Nevis, the Marshall Islands and Fiji.
+ Te G-8 Renewable Energy \ue003ask Force\u2019s 2001 report, an initiative driven by British Prime Minister \ue003ony Blair and urged by then Climate Institute Chairman, Sir Crispin \ue003ickell, is beginning to bear \ue004ruit now that leaders realize that terrorism is not the only grave threat to industrial civilization. Te recent agreement between Blair and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor o\ue004 Cali\ue004ornia, \ue004or cooperative action on climate protection, highlights these changing priorities in the US as well as Europe.
+ Climate Care, a UK- based group that has pioneered in voluntary carbon o\ue001sets, especially \ue004rom environmentally inclined \ue004amilies and British Air passengers, has just concluded an agreement with Land Rover, to have the \ue002rst 45,000 miles o\ue004 travel in most Land Rovers sold in the UK \ue004rom model year 2007 on covered by o\ue001sets. Climate Care has already arranged installation o\ue004 tens o\ue004 thousands o\ue004 compact fuorescents in small island nations; with their ampli\ue002ed market power they could extend these e\ue001orts much more widely.
+ Te Presbyterian Church USA passed a resolution in June asking each o\ue004 its 2.3 million members to make a \u201cbold witness\u201d by leading a carbon neutral li\ue004estyle. Tis is the \ue002rst major denomination in any
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