Climate Change Task Force Starts Work on Advocacy, Stewardship & Communications
Since its approval by the Old South Church Council last fall, the Climate Change Task Force has begun to organize and establish itself as a vibrant church organization. With 2018 described as the 4th hottest year on record, according to US and UN meteorological officials, and with flooding and wildfires and other extreme weather conditions becoming commonplace, Task Force members believe that the climate crisis has taken on a new urgency.
"Our goal is to have Old South use its strong voice to promote changes that must happen to protect our planet,” said Mary Ann Lape, chair of the Task Force.
The Task Force has divided itself into three working groups. The Environmental Stewardship group will work to promote actions to reduce fossil fuel consumption and promote more sustainable lifestyles, both within the church and in the lives of Old South members. The Climate Justice and Advocacy group is dedicated to researching policy proposals and advocating for policies to help combat climate change. The Communications/letter writing working group will keep the church and general public informed of the Task Force’s work and encourage church members to become involved in combating the climate crisis.
Currently, the Environmental Stewardship group is working on proposals to limit the use of single-use plastics in the church. In addition, the group believes that the church is close to reaching the first stage of certification (level one) under the Massachusetts UCC Green Congregations challenge and hopes to achieve that goal by April 28, the day on which Old South will celebrate Earth Day. The group is also planning to compile “Green Tips” to share with the congregation on a regular basis and has established a subgroup to work with children and youth.
The Climate Justice and Advocacy group is researching a wide array of policy issues to assess which ones are most effective in addressing the urgent issues of climate change, while also being accessible for effective advocacy by church members. Part of the group’s goal is to identify issues and approaches that fit with our Christian values and priorities. Legislation at the state level is one area where identifying and supporting particular bills may offer an opportunity for meaningful participation. One example is the concept of a “carbon tax and dividend,” which stalled in the last legislative session, but which has garnered significant interest and support in the 2019-2020 session.
Meanwhile, the Communications group is working on developing informational posters and signage and planning educational programs on climate issues. At its February 17 meeting, the group chose the “Caring for God’s Creation” as its current motto.