One of the tools in the Creation Care toolbox is the carbon offset. A carbon offset is a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases made to compensate for emissions made elsewhere. People may buy them to offset air travel or part of their total greenhouse gas emissions as a household. Some airlines offer them to offset the significant emissions associated with flying. I went to the website Terrapass and found out that for traveling from Boston to San Francisco and back, my estimated emissions would be 3,487 pounds of CO2 and an offset would cost $17.40.
You may ask, is this effective? According to a study by Stanford University of California mandated program limiting carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, they are effective because they’ve required forest owners to change their practices as part of making credits available and polluting companies have had to reduce emissions because the pool of available credits is limited. There have been side benefits in preserving habitat for endangered species. In addition, when you purchase an offset, it may be tax deductible when the offset is purchased from a nonprofit.
- Ella Ingraham, for the Green Team
We know that when we drive our gas-fueled cars, buy food transported from far away places, take a flight to an exotic destination or when we use electricity from the grid, CO2 is generated. CO2 is a greenhouse gas and rising greenhouse gas levels are a driving factor in climate change. According to EPA statistics, transportation accounted for 29% of 2017 greenhouse gas emissions, electricity 28%, industry 22% and commercial and residential sources including heating 12%. Electricity may be generated using fossil fuels or alternative energies such as wind or solar. According to its own reports the majority of Eversource’s electricity for New England is generated using fossil fuels. On a household basis we can estimate how much greenhouse gas we generate from all our activities and this is our carbon footprint. Reducing our carbon footprints as individuals and households, as a church community and as part of a global effort is one of our goals.
The Diocese of Western Massachusetts is participating in an online pilot program to estimate a household’s carbon footprint and actions to reduce it. Go to www.sustainislandhome.org to register your household for this program. The Green Team is interested in your input about this program so please get back to us.
-Ella Ingraham, for the Green Team
The following was presented during the sermon time on May 19, 2019--Green Sunday at SsJA.
By Ella Ingraham
In November 2017 the Diocese of Western Massachusetts Convention passed a resolution that included a recommendation to form parish Green Teams to expand environmental activities and help congregations connect their faith with sustainable living. We are part of international efforts, the national Episcopal Church’s efforts and our diocese efforts to make a difference in the environmental and social impacts of climate change and environmental pollution. During Lent this year Presiding Bishop Michael Curry issued the video we will be watching. It includes an invitation to make a pledge of specific practical actions on environmental issues. Over 1000 people took the pledge during Lent and numerous Episcopal Bishops including our own Bishop Douglas Fisher are encouraging us to take action now.
The Saints James and Andrew Green Team adapted the online pledge and is inviting all of us to follow Presiding Bishop Curry’s leadership by pledging to take specific practical actions to reduce pollution and carbon emissions. In making these pledges we are committing to change our habits over time with the goal of living more simply, gently and humbly on our Earth.
I have thought of myself as an environmentally conscious person, but in taking the Lenten pledge that Bishop Curry proposed, I realized that there are so many specific actions that I can take that will be meaningful especially when other people are taking them as well. I completed the pledge online and signed up to reduce my meat consumption to 3 times a week. The pledge was made and then I thought: “OMG, I just committed to eating meat only 3 times a week. What am I going to do?” The prospect of change suddenly seemed impossible, but I can only say that it has been much easier than I anticipated and actually gives me pleasure and joy. I know that if we all make changes together, we will make a difference.
This is the process we’ve planned:
Hand out pledge cards and a list of possible pledge ideas today. The pledge cards include space for writing your chosen pledge(s) and a request to take the card home and post it somewhere you’ll keep it in your mind and prayers. The handout includes a list of ideas for pledging. When you read the handout you will probably see that there are actions you have already taken or changes you have begun to make. Think of your successes as you consider making other actions. After the 8 am service we’ll be here to answer questions. After the 10 am service, members of the Green Team will be in the Whiteman Room to answer questions. We are also serving refreshments to celebrate Green Sunday. Members of the Green Team will be available after the services on May 26 and June 2 to answer questions.
When you complete your pledge form, please also write your pledge on the board in the hall. We’re doing this so we can have the pledges blessed and learn from each other. On June 9 which is Pentecost and a single service, the clergy will bless our pledges. When you become comfortable with the change you pledged to make, we hope that you will select another.
Going forward we will be offering other ways to share our stories and continue to grow our commitment to living gently on our planet. The church website now includes a Green Team blog and we will begin adding references to it that include what our broader church is doing. The handout will on the blog for future reference.
Prayer: O God, you have blessed us and given us stewardship over all the earth: Increase our reverence before the mystery of life and give us new insight into your purposes for the human race, and new wisdom and determination in making provision for its future in accordance with your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Be sure to check out www.sustainislandhome.org. It includes a link to the Carbon Tracker and a video by Bishop Douglas Fisher when you select the Diocese of Western Massachusetts.