Free Encyclical Climate Action Kit

Interfaith Power & Light and the Catholic Climate Covenant have teamed up teamed up to bring you our Pope Francis’ encyclical Climate Action Kit – a guide for communities of all faiths. As noted in the kit, “Putting the ecological encyclical into action can be simple. You’ll receive a step-by-step guide to understand and apply the encyclical, shrink your carbon footprint, and advocate for policy change.”

In the kit you’ll be guided through these 5 steps to take climate action:

1. Understand the encyclical
Find and select quotes for your use from the Pope’s 184-page encyclical on ecology. Additionally, find links to the encyclical news coverage and analysis.

2. Talk about it
Use sample Creation and Climate sermons, social media graphics and sample tweets. Find guidelines for hosting a discussion and submitting letters to the editor.

3. Stand with Pope Francis
Stand with Pope Francis by adding your name to pledges provided by
Catholic Climate Covenant and Interfaith Power & Light.

4. Start a team, go green
Find inspiration and tips for forming a green team, cutting your carbon footprint, and saving money that can be used to advance your mission.

5. Take action
Participate in advocacy to ask Congress to support the Green Climate Fund to help the nations suffering most from the effects of climate change.

Thank you for helping to amplify Pope Francis’ call to action! Get your free Climate Action Kit today.

Muslim Leaders Issue Statement on Climate Change

Earth Wrapped in a Leaf

This week, Muslim leaders and experts from 20 countries issued a strong statement urging Islams followers to address the threat of climate change.

We are in danger of ending life as we know it on our planet, the statement says. This current rate of climate change cannot be sustained, and the earths fine equilibrium (m?z?n) may soon be lost.

The eight-page declaration was signed by 60 leaders, including the Grand Muftis of Uganda and Lebanon. The statement urges world leaders to phase out fossil fuels and transition to 100% renewable energy as early as possible, in order to keep the global temperature from increasing more than 2 degrees Celsius.

We particularly call on the well-off nations and oil-producing states to lead the way in phasing out their greenhouse gas emissions as early as possible and no later than the middle of the century, it says.

The statement follows the Popes encyclical, and a Rabbinic letter signed by 403 Rabbis on climate change. Our friends at the Shalom Center have published the entire texts of all three documents. Click here.

At New York Interfaith Power & Light, we celebrate these statements by faith leaders and look forward to increased awareness of climate change by the worlds peoples.

Welcome to our New Members!

holmes camp

Were excited to welcome Holmes Presbyterian Camp as a member. This brings us to 109 member congregations!

Holmes Presbyterian Camp is located 55 miles north of New York City, providing a Christ-centered witness to the issues of conservation, ecology, peace, and justice.

Holmes has an organic Community Supported Agricultural farm that they started three years ago. This summer they have 40 families that come for their share of the produce, and they deliver another 20 shares to a church.

The camp has an environmental educator, and they work to instill in campers a commitment to preserving the earth. Soon, they will be using geothermal energy for a new conference center to be built on the grounds.

Welcome, Holmes Camp! Were glad to have you!

More good news for NY! NYSERDA Releases Clean Energy Fund.

nyserda

NYSERDA (the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) has released its proposed Clean Energy Fund, a $5B, 10-year plan to animate and sustain the energy marketplace to achieve reductions in greenhouse gas reductions and energy use. The plan provides a detailed description of NYSERDA’s intended approaches along four primary initiatives: Market Development, Innovation & Research, NY Green Bank, and NY Sun.

Under the NY Public Service Commission’s “Reforming the Energy Vision” master plan, NYSERDA will become the states lead agency in engaging the private marketplace for energy innovation and use, while the New York Power Authority will act as a lead agency in innovative energy use in the public building sector.

Read more here.

Looking to Go Solar for your home?

solar house

Create change in your own community, starting with your rooftop! Here are three easy ways for you to get more information.

  1. Check out our NYIPL partnership Sungevity. Get a free iquote from Sungevity. If you sign up for solar through our partnership, you’ll receive a $750 off your costs and NYIPL will receive a $750 contribution.
  2. To explore other solar opportunities, go to www.ny-sun.ny.gov. Click on “Get Solar”, then from the links on the left, choose “Find a commercial and industrial installer.” You can then click on your county for a list of certified firms.
  3. There are too many Solarize programs in New York to list! Find your community’s Solarize program here.

Fossil Fuel Divestment Act in NY State

Divest

State Senator Liz Krueger and Assembly Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz recently announced the Fossil Fuel Divestment Act (S.5873/A.8011), which would require the New York State Comptroller to divest the Common Retirement Fund (CRF) from fossil fuel holdings by 2020. The bill was endorsed by New York Interfaith Power and Light as well as many other environmental, faith, and community organizations. Bill McKibben, well-known writer, activist and founder of 350.org, and Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul, & Mary) were among the many advocates joining them in the announcement.

Im proud to be the sponsor of a bill that would require the New York State pension fund to divest from fossil fuels by 2020, said Senator Krueger. It is critical that we send the message that we are no longer going to invest our public funds in activities that do enormous damage to our environment, not just in New York, not just in the United States, but throughout the world. Its 2015 were already decades behind where we need to be in addressing climate change. Divestment is not a silver bullet, but it is one important step among many, and I urge all of my colleagues to support us in passing this bill and demonstrating that New York State can be at the cutting edge of the fight to stop catastrophic climate change.

Bold action is needed now to mitigate climate change, said AssemblyAssistant Speaker Ortiz.If we miss this opportunity to enact clean energy laws today, our childrenmay face serious consequences.The Fossil Fuel Divestment Act sends a strong message that New York should not invest in companies whose profits depend on damaging our climate. Our investment strategies should mirror the state’s publicpolicies. That is why I wholeheartedly sponsor this bill totake the states pension fund monies out of the pockets of those who profit from fossil fuels.

Learn more here.

Fracking Ban in New York State Made Official!

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced on June 29th that high-volume hydraulic fracturing is now banned in New York State. The ban was made official with the recent release of the state’s Final Findings Statement.

This is a true grassroots victory! New Yorkers like you kept up the pressure on the Governor and lawmakers, making phone calls and sending messages. Thank you for your efforts.

Please join us in calling Governor Cuomo at 518-474-8390 to thank him for protecting our state from fracking.

NYIPL meets with U.S. Congressman Gibson from the 19th District of New York.

At NYIPL we recognize that conversation creates change and we encourage our members to talk with their representatives about global warming. Were excited to report that this month, NYIPL board members Gerard Falco and Dr. Donald McCrimmon, and Executive Director Janna Stieg Watkins met with Congressman Chris Gibson, Republican from the 19th District of New York.

Congressman Gibson has drafted a resolution to acknowledge the reality of climate change. His goal is to address the skepticism toward climate change science that is common among the members of his party. He (and we) believes that if enough Republicans support this resolution, it would cause the discourse on climate change in Congress to shift significantly. He has not yet introduced the resolution, but we will keep you updated on its status and how you can help.

Please join us in thanking Congressman Gibson for his leadership. Call (202) 225-5614. If you host a meeting on climate change with your local, state, or national representatives, please tell us about it so we can share your experience in our newsletter.

Another Voice

Pope Frances

by Patricia K. Townsend

Patricia K. Townsend is a board member of the New York State affiliate of Interfaith Power and Light, a religious response to global warming. Dr. Townsend is an environmental and medical anthropologist residing in Amherst NY.

As Pope Francis prepared to issue his encyclical Laudato Sii on June 18, some politicians called into question the appropriateness of his addressing climate change as a moral issue. On the contrary, I believe that it is the responsibility and practice of religious leaders of all faiths to speak up prophetically when they identify a problem that affects the common good.

Nearly 20 years ago a Presbyterian pastor invited me to lead a discussion of climate change for an adult study group in her Town of Tonawanda congregation. National and regional bodies of the Presbyterian denomination, like many other faith groups, had already taken a position on climate change, even though the scientific evidence was not yet as powerful as it is now. In order to make the issue more personal, I decided to ask the class to role play some of the victims of global climate change who had already been identified at that time. The ones that stick in my memory were elderly residents of a Chicago apartment building who died because they were too poor to afford the electricity to run their air conditioning during a heat wave, Bangladeshi farmers whose near-sea-level fields were flooded, and Ethiopian and Somali children starving during a drought.

We then acknowledged that those who were suffering most from new climate extremes were the poor and marginalized. They were not the same people whose carbon pollution was responsible for the human-caused portion of global warming. This profound injustice is one that all religions can acknowledge.

Locally the faith community has taken action to combat global warming. Several Catholic schools and many church buildings, including First Presbyterian in Youngstown, Amherst Presbyterian, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Amherst, and North Presbyterian in Williamsville have covered their roofs with solar panels that produce much of the electricity that they use and reduced their energy costs. Other congregations have made efforts to retrofit their worship spaces to be as energy-efficient as they can. Others have helped needy people improve home insulation, reducing their contribution to climate disruption.

The message of the papal encyclical resonates beyond the Catholic Church with people of other faiths. Pope Francis speaks as well to those of little faith who nonetheless have an ethic of care for the earth and all its creatures in this and future generations.

Speak Up

Speak Up, advocating and lobbying,  is bringing the power of moral authority to the political process. Whether it’s lobbying legislators, attending rallies, signing letters or speaking at public hearings – NYIPL mobilizes people of faith across the state to engage in the political process.

As one house of worship, any of us can find ourselves easily dismissed but when we stand together as one united voice of many faiths across New York State, our representatives take note. In 2016, we are are already making a difference, pushing legislators and regulatory agencies to put climate change at the forefront. We visit our representatives and our senators, both State and National, and lobby for legislation based on climate science as our conscience demands. 

You are invited to join us.  Our legislators pay attention when we, their constituents, take the time to meet with them, either in their Albany office or in-district.  You can find your Assembly member here and find your state Senator here

Here are eight tips for an effective citizen lobbying visit:

  1. Make an appointment. Call, be polite, and request a meeting with your Senator or Assembly member. They will most likely direct you to a staff member who handles the energy portfolio.
  2. Prepare your case for support on the issue but conclude with a specific ask. If there is already a bill, tell the legislative consultant the name of the bill and its number. Summarize your points on a page you can leave with the office along with your contact information.
  3. Dress neatly: business attire is necessary. If you have a suit, wear it.
  4. Be on time. Better yet, be early.
  5. During your visit, remain polite and patient but stay on topic. Be prepared to bring the conversation back to climate change if you are lead off-topic.
  6. Tell your personal story — why are you concerned about global warming? Reference your faith tradition and how that informs your concern.
  7. It’s ok say “I don’t know” if you are asked a question you can’t answer. This gives you an opportunity to follow up after the meeting with a response.
  8. Lastly, call or email NYIPL to tell us about your visit! We want to know how it went, and we’ll feature a quote from you on our website! Your experience will help inform and inspire others.