Notes From "Faithful Climate Action 2.0" Symposium

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 ClimateBuddies.org 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: 

IEN energy action team.png


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 ClimateBuddies.org 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: 

  1. ABOUT CLIMATE BUDDIES: Presenter: Dr. Patty Stephens 
    1. Origin. Climate Buddies began one year ago, via a monthly symposium meeting presented by the IEN.
    2. Example Achievement. One great accomplishment so far: organizing against Austin Energy’s 80% rate increase for houses of worship (HOWs), and moving AE to create a new program wherein HOWs will rec’v energy efficiency monitors for their buildings, so they “can be virtuous, righteous and frugal” all at the same time. 
    3. Core Learning. “You’ll see tonight what can happen when a lot of smart people get together. Each time we have an EAT meeting, I get renewed.” 

  2. CONGREGATIONAL PANEL: Host: Dr. Patty Stephens, Presenters: leaders from each of the congregations listed below
    1. St. Andrew’s Presbyterian – Started an Energy Action Team (EAG). EAG leader Martha Rogers, “We don’t have time to wait, with the canaries in the coal mine… It hasn’t been easy, and there’s a long way to go; but it is gratifying to see so much accomplished… All in all it’s been a really good year for EAG at St. Andrews… “Once people talk and listen and do not judge, a lot of things can be learned and a lot of problems can be solved.” The St. A’s EAG has done multiple things this year (see attachment, “St. Andrews Energy Actions 2012” for more info). Here are a few examples: 
    2. Energy Action Awareness Buttons, “Transportation Fuel is Poisoning Our World” -- worn by EAG members around church. 
    3. Members have taken energy meters into their homes to measure energy efficiency and then put together a to-do list of things they want/need to do to become more efficient. EAG members also visited a recent home show to learn more about what kinds of opportunities are out there. 
    4. Many to-do items are still in process, such as: looking at effective ways to offset carbon footprint; funding for 100% renewable energy use by the church


  1. First Unitarian Universalist – Has been way out in the lead, “like a lighthouse” doing so many interesting things over the years (contact joep.meijer@climatebuddies.org for more info). Dale Bulla, environmental leader at First UU, listed some of the more recent accomplishments of his congregation: 
    1. Renewed Austin Energy “Green Choice” contract for another 10 years (second 10 year contract). First UU receives 100% of their energy from fossil fuel free Wind Power. 
    2. Produced an alternative vehicles fair for “Fossil Fools Day” with support from the Sierra Club and other local enviro groups. 
    3. Hosted numerous IEN Energy Action Team meetings. 
    4. Completed the UU community’s the national program for green sanctuaries. 


  1. Central Presbyterian – Ms. Jesse, “First UU is a juggernaut & we’re a baby bird. We’re small, but feisty … and busy! … Our goal is to get more things done next year.” Examples of some things accomplished this year: 
    1. Bill Sparks, key accounts manager at Austin Energy (AE), came out and talked to environmental group members about AE’s Load Energy Profilers (energy monitors); explaining what they can/will do in helping monitor energy usage under the new rate structure. 
    2. CP is planning to have an Energy Audit, conducted by ClimateBuddies.org. Most of CP’s building facilities are from the 50s & 60s (not too efficient), and need work!
    3. Will produce an annual recycling fair as part of their church’s next birthday celebration. 
    4. An example ‘tiny thing’ – “We have recycling bins for people to recycle bulletins after each service. “


  1. Austin Zen Center – Rob Wilson, environmental leader at AZC, tells us that after a prolonged environmental discussion this year, the AZC chose Global Warming as their theme for the year. Members decided they would endeavor to raise awareness and make right changes. “In general many things have been accomplished,” some examples: 
    1. This year -- got ClimateBuddies.org’s “Climate Audit” for congregations. 
    2. This year -- in effort f trying to keep “eco stewardship” interesting and fun for everyone, the Center conducted various general outdoor activities, such as a Shoal Creek clean up, multiple campouts, and getting the Center designated as a wildlife habitat. 
    3. Last year -- a donor paid for a solar installation. That installation now provides about ½ of the Zen Center’s power. Next Step: switch to Austin Energy’s Green Choice program to cover the other ½ of their electricity usage, making AZC’s electricity use 100% clean. 
    4. Contact joep.meijer@climatebuddies.org for more info. 

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