Notes from "Faithful Climate Action 2.0 Symposium, Part 2

(Notes: Part 2 of 2) On Tuesday, November 13, 2012 the Interfaith Environmental Network (IEN) presented its symposium, Faithful Climate Action, 2.0 at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. The evening consisted of a co-presentation by and the IEN’s Energy Action Team. Suffice to say, Climate Buddies and the IEN Energy Action Team have achieved great things in their first year of working together. Notes from the presentation follow (part 2 of 2; see part 1 here.) 

As area congregations strive to deepen their relationship with Creation, Climate Buddies feels it’s important to provide factual information for congregants to consider, regarding climate change. What follows below are some highlights from their presentation, this evening. (See slides from their presentation here.)




“How You Can Be Part of the Victory Team.”

Presenters: Joep Meijer & Bob Murray (

See slides from this presentation -- Download presentation slides here:

A. Big Achievement: Total Carbon Savings from 5 Churches in 2011, thanks to the IEN / EAT / Climate Buddies partnership = 1 Million lbs!!!! 

B. Who Are These Guys: Joep, “impact expert,” an environmental scientist & Bob, “energy expert,” retired utility CEO

C. Presentation: 

  1. Comparing Hurricanes -- Katrina vs. Sandy
  • Nobody disagrees, the effect of Global Warming is to warm the oceans, causing sea levels to rise and there to be more moisture in the atmosphere, melting arctic ice sheets also influence winds
  • Most insurance companies have acknowledged damage will be increasing
  • The damage that hit NJ & etc is so extensive, some of those areas will never be populated again
  1. Temp Records
  • June 2012 broke or tied 3,215 high temp records across the USA. 
  • June followed the warmest may on record for the Northern Hemisphere
  • The last 327 months have exceeded the 20th century average (there have been 142 months this century, this means temp records starting consistently exceeding the 20th century average, on a monthly basis. sometime in 1985)
  • Odds of this occurring is 3.7 x 10-99; in other words 99 zeros in front of the number; a billion = 9 zeros (99 zeros would be something in the neighborhood of: a trillion, trillion (2), trillion, trillion (4), trillion, trillion (6), trillion, trillion (6), .0007 of a chance … or a .0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000007th of a chance… Pretty small.)
  1. Fresh Water Concerns
  • 1 Billion Asians live along rivers that are projected to disappear within the next 50 years
  • Peru is expected to run out of fresh water within the next 50 years
  1. Costs
  • Sandy = more than $50B in repairs (recent estimate). The Federal Government (us) will cover this cost
  1. Emissions Math
  • We have to stop emitting GHGs by 2028 (at last year’s rate of emissions) to avert catastrophe. (Chris’s note: Annual emissions have increased about 3% year over year for the last 10 to 20 years.) 
  • Today’s fossil fuel companies have 5x more CO2 in their proven fossil fuel reserves (ready to burn / emit / sell to market in the coming couple of decades) than climate scientists believe the planet can handle … before catastrophe
  • Current market value of stored FFs = aprox $27T (12 zeros). We need to leave at least $20T in the ground. Thus, pushback… 
  1. There is No Scientific Disagreement
  • According to the National Academy of Scientists, about 98% of scientists agree climate change is real and is occurring today. 
  1. Hope
  • It Ain’t Easy. You Will Get Discouraged. This is the Greatest Challenge Humankind has ever faced and you have a chance to participate in the solution. 
  • Obama, 11/7/12, “We want our children to live in a world … that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.”
  • The majority of voters & swing voters support the development of solar power (and other forms of affordable clean energy) in the USA. 
  • Cost of victory is just $1T, if annualized over 10 years. (Currently Exxon alone spends about $100 Million a day, or $37B a year, searching for oil reserves – McKibben.)
  • Austin: Green Choice electricity from Austin Energy.  
  • Texas: leading the nation in wind production. 
  • USA: More than 40 states could be 100% self-reliant is relying 100% on renewable energy. 
  • Costs: Onshore wind already cheaper than coal (in Texas); solar parity is essentially here or very close in many states. 

What you can do as a community

  • Get the climate budget audit. This audit looks at where money is spent in relation to CO2 emissions. Result = knowing where your biggest impacts are. 

Big Ticket Items for individuals include: 

  • Mitigate air travel; 
  • “greening” your utilities; 
  • eating a mostly plant based diet; 
  • “greening” your consumerism
  1. Some of things Climate Buddies / EAT will be doing next year
  • Go On Carbon Diet, “How to loose 5,000lbs in 30 days” … goal for 2013, 5M lbs lost in Austin (partnering with Austin Climate Protection Program)
  • Starting a quarterly climate change coalition in Austin, these sessions will bring climate active groups from across the community together to exchange best practices and coordinate goals
  1. Can We Do This? – OH YEAH!
  • As Individuals: Joep & his wife Courtney have achieved carbon positive status (by doing all the above)
  • As Whole Communities: Samso, DK (Denmark) is Becoming Carbon Positive by transitioning over 10 years to 140% renewable electricity production. They will sell their excess clean energy to others the grid
  • As Whole Countries: Germany has made the commitment (since Fukushima) to a 100% “phase-out of nuclear power by 2022, the new energy policy also includes the following aims defined by the German government: Slash greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050; increase the share of power generated from renewable energies to 80 percent; and cut primary energy consumption 50 percent (all compared to 1990).” (see attachment , “Germany’s Path toward a Sustainable Energy Supply,” by Dr. Georg Maue, from the German Embassy in Washington, D.C., or Siemens Factsheet on Germany’s transition, for more info.)
  1. We Have a Mandate.
  • We have a responsibility to honor the creation we were given and to honor the lives of the future. 

-- End of Presentation -- 

The evening ended with Break Out Groups. Attendees shared what their congregation has been doing & what they’d learned at their HOWs; sharing new ideas & suggestions; making a commitment. Those who participate got a piece of birthday cake - ! (Nearly all participating in the breakout groups on this night ignored the “end of meeting call, staying an extra 10 to 20 to finalize their discussions!)

See Climate Buddies complete presentation slides here.

© 2017 Interfaith Environmental Network