Net-Zero Commitment

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Image of mountains, trees and mist. Image by Paul Summers, Unsplash.com.

Agencies commit to net-zero goal

The United Methodist interagency commitment to just and equitable net-zero emissions is the most systematic, comprehensive, global emission reduction effort in the history of The United Methodist Church. This commitment, established in 2021, seeks to ensure that the ministries of the present support the flourishing of God’s creation for the future.

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Our Pledge

We, the agencies of The United Methodist Church, pledge to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 across ministries, facilities, operations, and investments and to leverage the gifts of our connection putting equity and justice at the center as we build a net-zero emission economy by 2050.

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Centrality of equity and justice

The net-zero commitment reflects both an understanding of God’s invitation to care for God’s good creation and a responsibility to address the ways the failure to do so has created environmental, economic and social injustice. The leaders of these agencies and commissions recognize that “the good news of the Kingdom must judge, redeem and reform the sinful social structures of our time” (¶102 Doctrinal Standards and Our Theological Task) and therefore commit themselves to transform broken and exploitative systems.

Simply attaining net-zero emissions could perpetuate the burden on communities that are suffering from our systems of extraction, production and waste. That is why equity and justice are at the core of the net-zero commitment. As the commitment states, in reducing emissions, agencies and commissions will support a just and equitable transition that “dismantles structural barriers to racial and gender equity and builds resilient, flourishing communities.” 


What does net zero mean?

Put simply, net zero means cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible, with any remaining emissions re-absorbed from the atmosphere, by oceans and forests.

Why is net zero important?

To prevent the worst impacts of climate change and preserve a livable planet, global temperature increase needs to be limited to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Currently, the Earth is already about 1.1°C warmer than it was in the late 1800s, and emissions continue to rise. To keep global warming to no more than 1.5°C — as called for in the Paris Agreement — emissions need to be reduced by 45% by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.

How can net zero be achieved?

Transitioning to a net-zero world will require transforming how we produce, consume, and move about. Replacing polluting coal, gas and oil-fired power with energy from renewable sources, such as wind or solar, would dramatically reduce carbon emissions.

Source: United Nations Climate Action: Net-Zero Coalition

 The United Methodist interagency commitment to just and equitable net-zero emissions is the most systematic, comprehensive, global emission reduction effort in the history of The United Methodist Church. Wildflower image by Henry Be, Unsplash.com.
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Net-zero Commitment

2022 Interagency Coalition Net-Zero Progress Report

The United Methodist Interagency Just and Equitable Net-Zero Coalition has published its first progress report a year after setting a goal of just and equitable net-zero emissions by 2050.

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A sampling of imagery from the United Methodist Interagency Just and Equitable Net-Zero Coalition first progress report. (Image courtesy of United Methodist Communications.)
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Press Center

Interagency Net-Zero Coalition Issues Progress Report

The first report comes a year after setting a goal of just and equitable net-zero emissions by 2050.

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Agency leaders discuss shared net-zero commitment

View the video to learn more about how UM general agencies are coming together in a shared commitment to climate justice and environmental sustainability.

Our Faith Commitment

The United Methodist Church has long affirmed our individual and collective responsibility to address the unfolding climate crisis. We are called by our faith, informed by science and led by our relationships with impacted communities to respond with renewed urgency.

As United Methodists, we will continue to preach, teach, advocate and witness for climate action globally. And we understand that we must do more. Recognizing our connection to and complicity in systems of oppression and exploitation, we commit to new ways of ministry that better embody God’s vision of justice for God’s people and God’s planet.

We will work both to reduce the principal cause of climate disruption— greenhouse gas emissions — and to support a just and equitable transition that dismantles structural barriers to racial and gender equity and builds resilient, flourishing communities.

Measuring progress

Reporting is key to long-term accountability. Coalition members will be accountable to their boards to monitor progress toward the goal, and participate in a bi-annual coalition report.

  • All agencies and commissions in the coalition are in the process of identifying the most material sources of emissions they generate and considering strategies for reduction.
  • In addition to the tools shared through the coalition, agencies are finding help in tracking emissions from property managers, universities, energy management experts and through sectoral collaboration.
  • Many agencies and commissions have experienced emission-reducing transitions related to their workplaces in the last two years, including selling and consolidation of office space and transitions to hybrid or remote work. Some that share office space are considering how to work together on emission tracking.
  • Travel and events declined significantly during the pandemic. As staff consider travel and in-person events again, leaders are discerning how to effectively integrate emission reduction strategies into their planning.

Tools

Agencies are using these tools to help measure and track their emissions.

  • Greenhouse Gas Protocol:
    The coalition is using the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol to measure and track emissions. This framework allows users to track and understand their emissions relative to other nonprofits, businesses and countries, and helps agencies and commissions prioritize emission reduction efforts. By measuring emissions using the Protocol, agencies and commissions will know what parts of their ministries generate the highest emissions.
  • Energy Star Portfolio Manager:
    The coalition has partnered with the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star Program to track emissions generated by agency buildings and are using the Energy Star Portfolio Manager to track building energy use and generate GHG Protocol-standard emission reports.

    Congregations and conferences can also use the tool at no cost. Training and support are available through the Energy Star for Congregations program.