Net-Zero Emissions

April 13, 2022
Submitted by Mary Beth Downing and Jana Milford, MSC Creation Justice Task Force

On April 4, 2022, a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reinforced the urgency of cutting greenhouse gas emissions and reaching “net-zero” by 2050 or soon after that. “Net-zero” refers to the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions into the point that the amount released to the atmosphere is balanced by the amount removed and stored by forests and other carbon sinks. Scientists estimate that we need to achieve net-zero emissions by mid-century to have a good chance of limiting the worst impacts of climate change.
Reaching that target will require rapid deployment of sustainable technology, but the good news is that many of the needed solutions are available now. As the IPCC report explains, wind and solar electricity are already cheaper than competing technologies in much of the world, including the American West.  Reducing food waste and saving energy through more efficient lighting, appliances, cars, and trucks are other solutions that can reduce emissions and save money. 
In April 2021, eleven of the central agencies of the United Methodist Church announced their shared commitment to achieve net-zero emissions across their ministries, facilities, operations, and investments by 2050. The statement is endorsed by 11 General Secretaries and Agencies:  
Additional UMC agencies are also actively considering endorsing the statement.
The agencies’ commitment provides a model for the Mountain Sky Conference and local churches. In “Net-Zero Emissions: What’s Next for the UMC?”, Reverend Jenny Phillips from the General Board of Global Ministries, Reverend Courtney Randall from the Western Jurisdiction, and Mary Beth Downing of the Mountain Sky Creation Justice Task Force discuss the UMC agencies’ commitment and what our conference and local churches can learn from their pioneering efforts.   
Additionally, the Council of Bishops approved five responses to the climate crisis that is increasing the severity of natural disasters around the world and contributing to record global migration (from the November 10, 2021 edition of the UM News). 
The bishops pledged to: The bishops’ pledge described climate change “as an existential crisis the Church cannot ignore.”