2023 Lenten Carbon Reduction Calendar
Interested in ways to reduce your carbon footprint? Our Climate Justice team produced the following carbon reduction calendar to help folks go green during the 2023 Lenten season. While Lent is now over, the suggestions found in the calendar are valid for any time of the year, so we will continue to make it available here for a while. We hope that you will choose to review the calendar periodically and that it will provide you with insights about how you can reduce your carbon footprint now and in the future. Doing so will help reduce damage to God’s creation and help to overcome the injustice inherent in climate change.
God’s Tree-mendous Creation
Thank you Saint Paul!
On a gorgeous, sun-filled Fall Sunday, over 30 members of our Saint Paul family gathered to celebrate and plant trees around the Peach Park neighborhood. The event, sponsored by SPUMC’s Climate Justice Team was held on October 9, 2022, following morning church services, where planters and trees were blessed. Sack lunches were provided by the Near South Neighborhood Association, and master tree planter, Mark Wilson, provided instruction to the Discovery Kids (and adults) on the best planting methods for long-term tree success… then the SPUMC teams went to work, planting the first 10 of 37 high-quality trees provided by Saint Paul Church. The balance of the trees were planted by Great Plains Nursery the following Monday. Most gratifying were the connections made with neighbors, who asked to water and care for their tree, and they wanted to know a little more about SPUMC. Something more than simply tree roots may have been planted.
Thanks goes out to the City of Lincoln, the Nebraska Forestry Service, the State Arboretum, the Near South Neighborhood Association, and most of all… our Saint Paul family who provided both monetary support and labor for this project. You are a blessing!! Our last task, no small one, is to keep those trees alive and well. If you are interested in adopting a tree to provide financial or labor support of watering, please contact the church at 402-477-6951, or our tree watering coordinator, Reed Olson, at [email protected].
Additional Climate Justice Opportunities
The 2023 session of the Nebraska Legislature is now over. None of the legislative bills covered below were adopted, though LB738 was combined with other bills as part of LB138. One bill, LB505, was indefinitely postponed. The remainder, while not adopted, will carry over to the 2024 Legislative session for possible action. The status that each will have when the Legislature reconvenes in January is noted in the descriptions below.
LR21: Introduced by Senators Brewer and Erdman—this resolution proposes that sustainable nuclear energy is needed in Nebraska to augment fossil fuel and renewable energy generation. If adopted it would establish a special committee to be known as the Small Modular Nuclear Reactor Study Committee to study the feasibility of constructing and operating small modular nuclear reactors to generate power in Nebraska. The committee would be made up of several of the legislative committee chairs and an undetermined number of additional members of the Legislature. When the study is completed the committee is to make a report to the Legislature, but no timeline for doing that is specified. On General File for 2024.
LB49: Introduced by Senator Dungan—this bill would amend existing statutes relating to solar energy to allow cities and counties to adopt regulations prohibiting vegetation that would interfere with a solar energy facility’s right to direct sunlight. It would also make void and unenforceable land use covenants, including those by HOA’s, and similar instruments that prohibit the installation or use of a solar energy collector or solar energy system. HOA’s could also not charge a homeowner any fee for the placement of any solar energy collector or solar energy system. Held over in the Judiciary Committee.
LB255: Introduced by Brewer and Erdman—this bill would prohibit Omaha, Lincoln, NPPD, OPPD and LES, from using eminent domain to acquire any property for the purpose of constructing or operating a renewable energy generation facility producing electricity with wind or solar energy. It would impose the same restrictions on what are currently considered privately developed facilities if the ownership of those private entities includes any of the public entities noted above. NPPD, OPPD and LES would also be prohibited from entering into any new C-BED project (community based energy developments that are designed to produce energy from wind, solar, biomass or landfill gases) after the effective date of the act if that project is to generate electricity using wind or solar energy. They could also not use the power of eminent domain to acquire any existing C-BED project or related facilities. Finally, NPPD, OPPD, and LES could no longer file an application with the Power Review Board for new projects that would produce electricity using wind or solar energy. Held over in the Natural Resources Committee.
LB399: Introduced by Brewer and Erdman—this bill would change the procedures for approval by the Power Review Board (PWB) of applications by a privately developed renewable energy generation facility before commencing construction of its planned facility. (Note the proposed changes in what would constitute a privately developed facility in LB255 above). The PWB would hold a hearing on the application within 120 days after the application is filed. Following the hearing the Board would approve the application if it found that the application meets the criteria under existing law and “is not outweighed by any testimony or evidence in opposition to the application offered by power suppliers, other interested parties, or members of the public.” Held over in the Natural Resources Committee.
LB505: Introduced by Bostar—this bill would change the fee charged at the time of registration of a motor vehicle powered by an alternative fuel. That fee is currently $75.00; under the bill it would be $200.00 except for a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle it would be $125.00. It would also levy an excise tax of 3 cents per kilowatt hour on the electric energy used to charge the battery of a EV or plug-in hybrid at a commercial electric vehicle charging station unless that station is owned by a political subdivision that does not charge for the electric energy. Charging stations could only be used to charge electric vehicles. Commercial EV charging stations could charge customers on the basis of kilowatt hours consumed. Indefinitely postponed.
LB566: Introduced by Bostelman—LB566 would require the Natural Resources Committee to study “the economic impacts of an increasing reliance on an intermittent renewable energy generation approach to the generation of electricity in Nebraska.” The committee’s report, including recommendations, would be submitted to the legislature by November 15, 2023. The bill has the emergency clause so that it would become effective, if adopted, with the Governor’s signature. On General File for 2024.
LB599: Introduced by Armendariz—this bill relates to regulatory authority over “advanced recycling facilities” pursuant to the Integrated Solid Waste Management Act (ISWMA) administered by the NE Department of the Environment and Energy. Advanced recycling is a “process for the conversion of post-use polymers and recovered feedstocks into raw materials, feedstocks, chemicals, and other products through processes that include pyrolysis, gasification, depolymerization, catalytic cracking, reforming, hydrogenation, solvolysis, chemolysis (terms that are defined by the bill) and other similar technologies. I do not know the differences between those processes, but I do know that pyrolysis is an option for converting into usable products the types of hard-to-recycle plastics that can be placed in the Hefty orange energy bags. Here in Lincoln, Uribe Refuse is at least one refuse hauler who will collect those orange bags. Advanced recycling facilities have not previously been subject to the ISWMA. The bill would also provide that capital assistance for advanced recycling facilities could be provided from the state’s Waste Reduction and Recycling Incentive Fund. On General File for 2024.
LB738: Introduced by Raybould—this bill would define Class I, Class II, and Class III electric bicycles. It would add all such electric bicycles to the statutory list of vehicles that are not self-propelled and for which their use may be regulated by state and local entities. While LB738 itself was indefinitely postponed, the content of the bill was added to LB138, an omnibus transportation bill. That bill was adopted and signed into law with the emergency clause which means it became law with the Governor’s signature on June 1.
- Effects of Climate Change on Human Health—The Lincoln Journal Star and the Omaha World Herald had identical articles on Sunday, February 19, 2023 about the adverse, but too often overlooked, effects of climate change on human health. The following link is to the Journal Star article. https://journalstar.com/lifestyles/health-med-fit/health-matters/health-matters-climate-change-already-impacting-nebraskans-health/article_2b99e666-ab83-5d77-b4c2-d38e9fc593ac.html
- Decoding the Weather Machine – A documentary outlining what is happening scientifically to our planet because of the addition of greenhouse gases to our atmosphere and what options exist for reducing the increases in global warming.
- SojoAction Christians and Climate Q&A – This resource aims to demystify the topic of climate change and clarify the call to take action for climate justice. Designed for Christians of all backgrounds, it addresses the most common questions and concerns we hear about the climate crisis and provides clear steps for action.
- “Earthrise” by Amanda Gorman – A poem recited by National Youth Poet Laureate.
- Watch the Recent PBS Video “Earth Emergency”
“Earth Emergency” is a recent PBS production that describes how the effects of global warming are themselves leading to more global warming and climate change. In other words, it demonstrates how changes such as the warming of the oceans, by itself, leads to more global warming and how the thawing of artic tundra releases more carbon into the atmosphere. It is a sobering reminder of the challenge we face globally in our effort to combat climate change. That video is available anytime to those who have PBS Passport and is occasionally aired on PBS.
- Climate Change Books
The following are recommended as sources of information that will further explain climate change and its impacts:
- Bill Gates book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster” not only describes the nature and extent of the climate challenge ahead of us, but also the technological obstacles that must be overcome to meet those challenges.
- “The Future We Choose” by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac describes what we can expect in the future (2050) if we alternatively do or do not do anything to stop emitting greenhouse gases.
- A short 112 page book that includes speeches by Greta Thunberg, the remarkable Swedish teenager who has gained worldwide acclaim for her advocacy for climate change action is titled “No One is Too Small to Make a Difference.”
- A slightly different twist on the environmental challenges ahead can be found in Doug Tallamy’s book “Nature’s Best Hope, A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Backyard.” In that book the author explains how important insects and plants, especially the native plants that support the insects, are essential to the continued existence of our ecosystems.
- Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, an internationally recognized climate scientist, is the author of a book entitled “Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World.” In that book Dr. Hayhoe explains how we can more easily start and have conversations with others about climate change.
- The IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) produces a new report each year. The 2023 report released in March emphasizes the need for urgent climate action and describes how the most vulnerable global populations are the most at risk from current and increasing impacts of climate change. It also suggests that global resources are sufficient to prevent climate change catastrophes if the political will is present. Both a four-page press release about the new report and the report’s summary for policymakers can be found by searching for IPCC 2023 report.
- For information on the sources and proportions of greenhouses gases in our atmosphere, take a look at: https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions
- To calculate your own carbon footprint and see which of your activities are causing the most emissions, do the fun activity found at: https://www3.epa.gov/carbon-footprint-calculator.
- To learn about emissions globally, by type of gas being emitted, by economic sector and by country, see: https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/global-greenhouse-gas-emissions-data.
- Arguments are still being made about whether electric vehicles result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions when their manufacture and disposal are also considered. For an excellent article about how much lower emissions are with an EV, read: https://arstechnica.com/cars/2021/07/electric-cars-have-much-lower-life-cycle-emissions-new-study-confirms/ An even more recent analysis of the greenhouse gas emission differences between fossil fueled and electric vehicles can be found at https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/driving-cleaner
- A blog about plastic bags and the damage they cause can be seen at: https://blog.padi.com/2017/03/27/7-facts-plastic-bags-will-change-way-use/.
- An article about divestment in fossil fuels in the New Yorker magazine can be found at: https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/the-powerful-new-financial-argument-for-fossil-fuel-divestment.
- Composting of food waste and other organic materials is another way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The City of Lincoln’s website has several items of interest about composting including how to do it ourselves and what is available commercially in that regard. It can be easily accessed by going to: https://www.lincoln.ne.gov/home and by searching for “compost.” The UNL Extension Service also has made a lot of helpful information about composting available at: https://extension.unl.edu and by searching for “compost” there as well.
Climate Change Provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022
Earlier this year Congress adopted, and President Biden signed, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. The act has provisions relating to many subjects, but those intended to address climate change are the most extensive. According to a summary of the act, it will put the U.S. on a path to a roughly 40% emissions reduction by 2030 and represents the single biggest climate investments in U.S. history, by far. An abbreviated summary of the claimed benefits of the act is found below. A more detailed summary can be found at: https://earthjustice.org/brief/2022/what-the-inflation-reduction-act-means-for-climate
An abbreviated summary of the claimed benefits of the act.
- Lowers energy costs for Americans through policies that will lower prices at the pump and on electricity bills, help consumers afford technologies that will lower emissions and energy prices, and reduce costs that would otherwise be passed on to them.
- Increases American energy security through policies to support energy reliability and cleaner production coupled with historic investments in American clean energy manufacturing to lessen our reliance on China, ensuring the transition to a clean economy creates millions of American manufacturing jobs, and is powered by American-made clean technologies.
- Invests in decarbonizing all sectors of the economy through targeted federal support of innovative climate solutions.
- Focuses investments into disadvantaged communities to ensure that communities that are too-often left behind will share in the benefits of the transition to a clean economy.
- Supports resilient rural communities by investing in farmers and forestland owners to be part of growing climate solutions, and by ensuring rural communities are able to better adapt to a rapidly changing climate.
Saint Paul Justice & Mercy Team FAQ
- Presence at the state capital for justice gatherings on topics such as immigration and racial injustice
- Representation on community partnership boards working for justice
- Speakers, classes and forums to educate on justice issues
- Preaching justice
- SP supports (financially and through participation) the Interfaith Peacemaking Coalition yearly workshop.
- We have placed yard signs in member’s homes which address justice issues to let community know we are sharing God’s Love for all in acts of justice.
We have gained new members through our efforts at justice as people have seen our witness with PRIDE festival and our rainbow banners outside the church. Each have told stories of their previous exile from churches due to homophobic or shame-based theology. They have found new life and new connection to God through the welcoming of Saint Paul UMC.
- Saint Paul has undergone a new visioning process with the guidance of the Unstuck Church Group. One of the areas of our focus for growth is in Mercy and Justice. We have formed a strategic planning team which will be leading the congregation into greater justice-centered mission practices.
- We will begin with a foundation of deepening our own understanding of lovingkindness. All justice work must be grounded in love (open hearts).
- Next we will educate ourselves and the congregation around justice and the biblical mandate (open minds).
- Finally, we will go forward into the world beyond our doors to do acts of justice (open doors).
Our strategic planning team has identified three areas for our focus: racial justice, ecological justice, and health care. Each of these areas will be resourced and ministry teams will be formed to engage the congregation in love, education and action. We will schedule our efforts strategically by launching one at a time and building support before adding the next.