UCC and Old South Endorse Green New Deal, Among Other Climate Policies
The United Church of Christ’s 32nd General Synod meeting in Milwaukee has approved three resolutions to help combat the climate crisis, including one in support of the “Green New Deal”. The Green New Deal resolution, approved by a vote 662-30, with nine abstentions, makes the UCC the first Christian body in the country to endorse the far-reaching climate plan. The Green New Deal, introduced in Congress earlier this year by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), attempts to transform the US economy in order to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions; it proposes investing in infrastructure and industry to encourage use of renewables, creating millions of high-wage jobs in the process.
The Old South Church Climate Change Task Force and the Environmental Ministries of Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ (MACUCC) had unanimously endorsed the Green New Deal resolution in advance of the synod. The two groups had also endorsed a resolution, approved by the synod, urging all people of faith to reduce their use of plastic foam—specifically, styrofoam. Styrofoam does not decompose in landfills and is a known pollutant and suspected carcinogen.
A third resolution—in favor of the US congressional bill HR 763, which sets a price on carbon, was greeted with some reservations by the Environmental Ministries of MACUCC. While the Environmental Ministries supported the concept in principle as a way to decrease fossil fuel use, there were certain principles and values that it wanted to see included in the legislation before endorsing it, including a strong social justice component. The Old South Climate Change Task Force voted to follow the MAUCC’s lead.
Meanwhile, at a June 9 meeting, the Old South Church Climate Task Force steering committee voted unanimously to support Massachusetts bill H. 2810, known as “the Benson Bill,” after its sponsor, Rep. Jennifer Benson of Lunenburg. Like the federal legislation, the legislation puts a fee on each ton of carbon dioxide produced. Under the proposal, 70% of the expected $400 to $600 million raised would be returned to customers as income-based rebates, with higher amounts going to low -and- middle income residents. The remaining 30% would go to local renewable energy, energy efficiency, and clean transportation projects, particularly in low income communities.
Hearings on the Massachusetts bill are expected to take place in the fall. During the summer, members of the Climate Change Task Force and its Advocacy Working Group will be tabling before and after Old South services in order to encourage church members to send postcards to their legislators to support the bill. Task Force and Advocacy group members will also encourage church members to sign up to become climate advocates to increase the Task Force’s ability in lobbying for environmental issues.