General Synod resolution calls for transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy
In what several conferences of the United Church of Christ are calling “another definitive and prophetic step away from a fossil-fuel-based economy,” a resolution to be considered by General Synod delegates in Cleveland calls for a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. The resolution, titled “Transition from Fossil Fuels to Renewable Energy,” was submitted by the Central Pacific, Michigan, New York, Southwest, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts conferences of the UCC, and stresses the importance of implementing more sustainable ways for humanity to coexist on this planet with the rest of creation.
General Synod 2015 will take place June 26-30 at the Cleveland Convention Center.
“Just as people of faith were principally responsible for passing civil rights and voting rights legislation, leadership by people of faith is now essential if our grandchildren are to experience the Eden into which we were born,” said the Rev. Jim Antal, conference minister of the Massachusetts Conference. “This resolution, along with legislative advocacy, on-the-ground protests to resist any expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure, and embracing civil disobedience as a normative expression of discipleship – all together, this is how the discipleship will be lived with creation itself in the balance.”
The resolution encourages UCC pastors, conferences and members to press federal and state lawmakers to enact or extend incentives that would lead to a rapid transition to renewable energy sources, with a total transition by 2080. It calls for immediate elimination of all fossil fuel subsidies, and the enation of a carbon tax and legislation that will eliminate any further extraction of coal, oil and gas in the U.S. and abroad.
The resolution also calls on UCC Justice and Witness Ministries to employ a full-time environmental justice staff member who would oversee the implementation of the resolution and work with conference ministers to establish national and conference-level task forces. The task forces would be charged with listening to the stories and concerns of UCC members and communities affected by climate change, educating them on the problem and solutions, and advocating for appropriate and timely action.
According to the resolution, the General Synod and the denomination would take “another definitive and prophetic step towards the biblically-mandated, theologically-justified goal of motivating individual members, churches and our nation away from a hopelessly unsustainable fossil-fuel-energy-based economy, to a hopeful, sustainable, renewable-energy-based economy which will ensure the preservation and protection of our fragile and vulnerable planetary ecosystem for the sake of ourselves, our future generations, and all life on our God-given Earth home.”
This action follows resolutions passed at General Synod in 2013, which called for the UCC to move toward divestment from fossil fuels as one strategy to combat climate change, an end to mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia, and for UCC congregations to move toward carbon neutrality.
“All who affiliate with the United Church of Christ recognize that we have always been driven by courage to point to a horizon others have yet to imagine,” Antal said. “Climate change is the greatest moral issue humanity has ever faced. As people of faith, we have the power to bend the arc of justice.”
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