UUCC Climate Change: Impact Analysis
At the November kick-off of UUCC’s Climate Action initiative, over 70 participants brainstormed 49 ideas (plus more afterwards) of potential actions and advocacy.
In order to help the congregation prioritize those 50+ potential projects, the Analytics sub-team did some initial analyses to determine which of the ideas might have bigger potential impacts for reducing our carbon footprints (by reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) such as CO2 ). We reviewed carbon footprint models1, current books on the topic (like Drawdown2), EPA.gov3 and numerous sources in the internet. Unfortunately, for most projects, there is no single consensus or a precise answer, and it would take a dedicated team of experts years to study and analyze all the data (Drawdown is the result of 2 years of research by nearly 70 researchers). Plus, each of our carbon footprints is different.
Fortunately, EPA.gov provides some very clear information about how much GHG each US sector currently generates, which provides an upper limit to how millions of tons (MMT) of GHG could be reduced:
Agriculture: 65 MMT (of which Beef and Dairy is 26)
Electric and Heat: 254 MMT (of which Residential is 92)
Transportation fuel: 189 MMT (of which (all) cars are 109
Industry: 143 MMT
Land use: -72 MMT (Net ABSORPTION of GHG!)
So we can see that for residential user like us, Electric and Heat Energy and Transportation Fuel are by far the two largest targets, followed by Agriculture (Food) and Land Use can absorb GHGs. Within these categories, some of the highest impact actions (and advocacy) we could take include:
ELECTRIC & HEAT ENERGY: Switch to renewable sources like solar or wind.4
FOOD: Reduce food waste. Reduce/eliminate meat from diet.
TRANSPORTATION: Reduce your car emissions and number of air miles.
LAND USE: Plant trees.
Over the next few weeks (and months), there will be numerous opportunities to provide your input about which projects we should focus on and which you want to participate in. Please share your ideas member of the Climate Team, see us at coffee hour, and/or join the team’s distribution list
Our goal is to start with those highly effective projects that have the widest support of our members. Please let us know your thoughts and join us!
- Drawdown, edited by Paul Hawken, is subtitled “The most comprehensive plan ever produced to reverse global warming” and is available in the UUCC bookstore.
- If you want to measure your own individual carbon footprint, try carbonfootprint.com or www.epa.gov or www.nature.org. They require a lot of data, but the Climate Team can help. Click here for information on carbon footprint calculators. As a point of reference, the average American’s footprint is 18 tons and the worldwide target is 2 tons.
- A project to allow UUCC members (and potentially OBIC) to switch their home electricity to community solar has already begun with Neighborhood Sun neighborhoodsun.solar.