Washington, DC. March 22, 2006 – The Unitarian Universalist Association’s (UUA) General Assembly will take place from June 21-25 in St. Louis, Missouri. This year, the Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth (UUMFE), an affiliate organization to UUA, whose mission is to promote “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part,” has requested that General Assembly participants be given the opportunity to make a small contribution to offset the average per person amount of carbon emissions produced by a typical conference like GA. Carbon offsets are the process of reducing a ton of carbon dioxide emissions in another location for the emissions caused in either homes, offices, commuting, traveling or other activities that use energy and cause emissions. The contributions from GA will address climate change by supporting renewable energy and efficiency projects through a partnership with Carbonfund.org, a non-profit organization whose goal is to make carbon offsets and climate protection easy, affordable and a normal way of life for every individual and business.
The primary goal for Carbonfund.org, the UUA General Assembly Planning Committee, and UU Ministry for Earth is to move towards making this annual event carbon neutral on a voluntary basis. The UUA expects between 4,000-5,000 participants and will encourage them to make a tax deductible $6 contribution to offset their carbon footprint at the event. After the conference is over, Carbonfund.org and UU Ministry for Earth will produce a report on the results, the positive impacts made, and detail lessons learned for future events.
In addition, Carbonfund.org and UU Ministry for Earth will share a booth at the event, where participants will learn about climate change, the best ways to take action, and learn about reducing one’s personal carbon footprint and carbon offsets. In addition, Carbonfund.org will conduct a UUMFE-sponsored workshop for attendees entitled: “Using Carbon Offsets to save Creation.”
Carbonfund.org is looking forward to supporting and developing their partnership with the UU Ministry for Earth and the Unitarian Universalist Association. “Carbonfund.org is very proud to develop a partnership with the UU Ministry of Earth and the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly,” said Leslie Carlson, President of Carbonfund.org. “We are very impressed with their level of commitment and determination in making reductions and offsets a regular part of their event planning, and we look forward to expanding this program throughout the UUA organization.”
Jan Sneegas, Director of General Assembly and Conference Services at the UUA said, “Because the Association embraces social and environmental responsibility, then naturally our events should reflect that commitment. The GA Planning Committee is working toward the environmental sustainability of our meeting on several fronts, including working with hotels and vendors to increase the use of sustainable practices. But it is perhaps most exciting to see that nearly one in four of our registrants has volunteered to contribute to this effort in the first week of registration. We believe there is broad-based support among our attendees to make General Assembly a “green” meeting and we are strongly committed to this endeavor”
UU Ministry for Earth Chair, Claudia Kern comments: “The General Assembly will be voting this June on a Statement of Conscience on Global Warming. UUs are deeply concerned about this urgent crisis and are seeking meaningful ways in which they may take action both as individuals and as congregations. We understand that a sustainable future will require unprecedented changes in how we live our lives, but at the same time we recognize the reality that most of us cannot immediately give up our cars, remodel our homes with alternative energy options for heat and electricity, or avoid some air travel. As we work hard to change our behaviors and to move our society as rapidly as possible towards sustainable solutions, carbon offsets offer us an action we can take right now to begin reducing our footprint on the Earth.”
UU Ministry for Earth is the environmental affiliate organization of the UUA. Their focus is upon the theological, spiritual, and ethical implications of human behaviors as they affect the health and sustainability of the living Earth. Their work includes a Green Sanctuary Certification process, production and dissemination of resource materials for study, religious education and worship, and support for UUs in their personal and congregational efforts to create a healthy, just, and sustainable world.