The Unitarian Universalist Association’s annual General Assembly meeting strives to address, confirm and take action on the social, economic and environmental issues that matter most to its engaged membership. June’s GA meeting in Portland, Oregon certainly accomplished this – on the second day of GA, the US Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage was announced, and the GA schedule for the day turned to celebration of this ground-breaking event.
The Portland GA also affirmed the membership’s support of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, following the massacre at the bible study group at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. General Assembly members passed an Action of Immediate Witness (AIW) on the final afternoon of GA, urging congregants to “join the fight for racial justice against the harsh racist practices to which many black people are exposed.”
This year’s GA also reached a milestone in the event’s environmental commitments by achieving 100% carbon offsetting of the carbon emissions produced by the five-day event. Each year since 2006, GA attendees have been given the option to make a donation to offset their per-person portion of the event’s overall carbon emissions associated with attendee travel, venue and hotel room energy consumption, local transportation, meals, waste management and shipping.
In recent years, GA attendee donations offset about half of the event’s total overall carbon emissions, but this year, UUA decided to make a commitment to offset the entire event’s carbon emissions. Working with long-time partners sustainable events planner MeetGreen and Carbonfund.org Foundation, UUA’s team calculated the GA event’s total greenhouse gases then budgeted the donation required to offset the entire 2925.4 metric tonnes – about 6.5 million pounds – of carbon emissions. Carbonfund.org used UUA’s carbon offset donation to purchase and permanently retire the total corresponding carbon credits in the US-based Truck Stop Electrification project in order to fully offset UUA GA event emissions. This innovative project provides long-haul truckers with an electricity-powered device to run their cab’s heating, cooling and electronics, thus allowing the driver to turn off the engine and avoid idling on diesel fuel during rest and sleep hours, saving millions of pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, improving resting conditions for drivers and air quality while lowering noise levels at truck stops with these installations.
The UUA continues to lead in bulding a better way for its members and their communities, and achieving this important goal of 100% carbon offsets for its General Assembly event marks another milestone in the UUA’s commitments to sustainability. Carbonfund.org is honored to partner with UUA and MeetGreen in this important initiative.