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Reflections at the end of week one at COP21

Unitarian Universalists have been established at COP21 as responsible, caring, serious climate activists. Rev. Peggy Clarke and Jan Dash participated in a side event panel today (ethical aspects of INDC commitments). UUs attended two State Department hearings. UUs discussed climate change with leaders of other faiths. UUs attended many side events and identified ourselves as UUs. We also networked with many people. At COP21, there were many events by the world poor on the dangers of climate change and their special vulnerability. This is the connection of climate justice with the most vulnerable to climate change. Climate change cuts across all issues of social justice with which UUs are generally concerned. It was good that UU observers were able to attend COP21 under the aegis of the UUA, thanks to the active participation of UU-UNO climate interns under Director Bruce Knotts, to whom we offer thanks. In 2009 at Copenhagen, we attended without official designation as UUs. We wish the UUs coming in the second week an enlightening and inspiring experience. We thank the UU climate activists back home. What we need to do is to replace the "road to Paris" with the "superhighway from Paris" to implement the Paris agreement on climate that will be established at the end of next week. Our work is has only begun. Lynn and Jan Dash

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From LYNN Dash Acting on climate justice, human rights threatened by climate change.

Africa is already suffering from the worst effects of climate change. People are displaced by flooding now, for example. Effects of extreme effects now combine with longer term impacts through warmer temperatures and changes in water that can lead to changes in infectious diseases, shifts in malaria regions and malnutrition. The photo on the left is from Niger, Africa Pavillon COP21. Lynn

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Lots of action at the Paris COP21 Climate Conference

We UU observers participated in an off-the-record meeting with other religious organizations at the State Dept. office on Loss and Damage today. Many talks and networking, meeting people. We UUs are making our presence felt here. We are learning a lot to bring back home to fellow UUs.

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COP21 Paris Climate Conference blogs and comments

Lynn and I are here and got our credentials at the COP21 registration desk. People of many faiths who have been working on climate for years will be at the Conference, among the estimated 40,000 participants. We and others will be blogging here and also on the Climate Portal: plus blogging on the UUs in Paris Facebook page . Rev. Peggy Clarke and Jan will be on a panel side event on Sat. Dec. 5 called "Examination of how nations have and should consider equity and justice in setting INDCs" An INDC is the commitment made by a country for emissions reductions/control. We are looking forward to seeing other UUs. Here is a photo Lynn took at the site:

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Questions and Answers About the Paris Talks

Paris Conference, November 30 to December 12

William McPherson

1. What is the Paris Conference on climate change? It is a Conference of Parties (COP) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an international agreement signed in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 and ratified by over 192 countries including the U.S. This is the 21st COP so it is known as COP21. The UNFCCC is not designed to specify limits on the greenhouse gases that cause climate change. It is a “framework” agreement that requires specific “protocols” to designate limits on greenhouse gas emissions. The first protocol under UNFCCC was the Kyoto Protocol, which included only about 40 countries. Major emitters such as the U.S. and China did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol so another agreement is needed.

2. What will the Paris Conference accomplish? The Paris agreement will set voluntary limits on emissions, unlike the Kyoto Protocol that had mandatory limits with an enforcement mechanism. Because limits are voluntary, individual countries will not need to ratify the Paris agreement. The U.S. has made this a central part of its strategy, contending that the original 1992 UNFCCC agreement authorizes countries to set limits and that any agreement in Paris will not be subject to ratification in the U.S. Senate, where it would surely fail to get enough votes. Other countries have reluctantly accepted this strategy, recognizing that they must accommodate the elephant in the room.

3. What are the voluntary limits and how will they affect climate change? The limits are called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), which shows their nature. They are determined by each nation separately, and they are projected into the future (after 2020) as “intentions.” So far, 150 nations with about 90% of the world’s emissions have submitted their INDCs, including all the large ones such as the U.S., Europe, China, Japan, India, Brazil, South Africa and Russia. According to analysis by research organizations, the INDCs announced so far would not meet the target of limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius, but would raise world temperatures at least 3 degrees C. One area of negotiation that remains open is imposing a five-year review on INDCs to determine if they could keep temperatures below 2C. One research organization listed the benefits of 2C: “…compared to unchecked global warming, keeping the temperature rise below 2C would reduce heatwaves by 89%, flooding by 76%, cropland decline by 41% and water stress by 26%.”

4. What are the areas of disagreement that could threaten success in Paris? The 2C figure is still disputed by some, including low-lying island states, who prefer 1.5 degrees C. Another area is finance: developed country negotiators in Copenhagen in 2009 pledged $100 billion a year in climate aid, and developing countries want that built into the agreement. Another area is “loss and damage,” a concept that high emitters have legal responsibility for climate problems suffered by the low-emitter societies, who are mostly developing countries. This could become an issue in international law.

5. What are the chances for success in Paris? Chances are good, given that some parties (such as the EU) have reluctantly accepted the INDC approach and the U.S. has made pledges that seem both realistic and significant. While world leaders may well sign the document and celebrate the success of the meeting, the real questions will arise as it goes into effect. With U.S. EPA rules on power plants, for example, it would be likely that the U.S. could meet its commitment to a 26-28% reduction in emissions by 2025. Whether we will meet this commitment depends on the next president and Congress.

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Support Lummi Elder create new film on climate impacts on Native communities for UN

An opportunity to support Lummi Elder Darrell Hillaire’s new project through Setting Sun Productions, an educational film on climate impacts on Native communities for UN Summit on Climate Change in Paris Setting Sun Productions is making a film called, “Teachings,” which features a group of respected leaders sharing their wisdom about living a good life on this earth. The mission is to share our, “Way of Life,” with the world in hopes of transforming mankind’s treatment of the planet and of each other. The film will be gifted to Oren Lyons, Onondaga Chief who is attending the UN Summit on Climate Change in Paris, France on November 30, 2015. The film, “Teachings,” will be made November 14 at the Wexliem Building on the Lummi Reservation. The public is welcome. Speakers List: · Honorable Timothy Ballew II, Chairman of the Lummi Indian Business Council. Chairman Ballew is serving the Lummi people to preserve, promote and protect the Schelangen (Way of Life). · Steven Point, Former Lieutenant Governor of Canada, BC Provincial Judge, Sto’Lo’ Nation Leader, Healer. · Dr. Gwen Point: University of Fraser Valley University Chancellor, Sto’lo’ Nation Leader, Healer. · Eugene Harry, Squamish Nation, respected elder and Cast Salish speaker. Eugene played Chief Seattle in the play, “What About Those Promises?” · Jewell “Praying Wolf” James, Hose of Tears Carvers, Lummi Treaty Protection Leader, Healer. · Deborah Parker, Tulalip Women’s and Children’s rights advocate, Healer. About the Director: Darrell Hillaire Darrell is a tribal member of the Lummi Nation. He started Setting Suns Productions to make Native American themed performance arts, and the culture and the history of Native American people accessible. His original plays "What About Those Promises?" and "Sonny Sixkiller Buys the Redskins" sold out multiple performances in the Pacific Northwest.

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ENERGY STAR Use Portfolio Manager for Institutional Buildings

You can find this building energy calculator from the webpage on Reducing your Building's Carbon footprint ( It's actually Energy Star, not Energy Start. A group in our congregation will be starting work on this in Fall 2015.

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Please make this webpage easier to find: "Reduce your building's carbon footprint by 20%..."

A few months ago I combed through the website. At that time, it didn't take long to find suggestions for individual and congregational action. Today, I've gone back to look again, but only found the above-mentioned webpage by searching for it. Otherwise I wouldn't have found it. Please make it easier to find; please connect it so that users can find it more easily.

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Our Climate Action Coalition in Portland, OR, was largely responsible for Mayor Charlie Hales' reversal of his decision to invite propane giant Pembina from our harbor and also initiated the recent "kayaktivist" protest against the icebreaker Fennica, as it moved out of repair to the Artic. We were joined by Greenpeace protesters who dangled from the St. John's bridge for 40 hours, to prevent movement of the ship, and these images went around the world. It's time for in-your-face protest, time for civil disobedience--we are in crisis. Every act that raises consciousness is important. Ultimately, we need a climate tax that all developed countries buy into, and this effort must be led by the US--and hopefully, China. Thanks for all the good work you are doing!

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Advocate for the game-changing EPA Clean Power Plan

How about we advocate for strong implementation of the new EPA Clean Power Plan in all 50 states? This historic policy initiative, the first ever to regulate carbon emissions, has the potential to be the most sweeping environmental action since the Clean Air Act a generation ago, and appears to be the most significant current policy initiative on climate change with a chance of actually being enacted. It incorporates many of the things suggested elsewhere, including ramping up renewable energy and energy efficiency as well as putting a price on carbon. The Administration infomercial is at, but most environmental organizations I am aware of are supporting and prioritizing this. The UU Advocacy Network of Illinois is part of the coalition organizing and mobilizing for this in Illinois, and we'd be happy to provide more info and connections.

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Are UUs going to have an "official" presence at the Moral Action on Climate?

I would be much more likely to attend the event (Sept. 24 in D.C.) if I knew other UUs who would be there. Terry Wiggins First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee

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Commit2Respond endorsements

The Climate Mobilization approach (endorsed in your email today) may energize America when the US is hit by a climate event that shakes the country as much as Pearl Harbor did. Unfortunately, such an event would need to be even more devastating than Hurricane Katrina or Super Storm Sandy...and it might not come for another decade. There are many other valid alternative secular groups for UUs in the battle against climate change. For example, following in the footsteps of a number of UU congregations around the country, here in Seacoast New Hampshire we are in the process of forming a chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL). The CCL advocates carbon pricing (not cap and trade), a strategy that both liberal and conservative economists think is the best way to control carbon emissions. Beyond Democrats and environmentalists, the CCL is gaining traction with some Republicans--who we are going to need to convince if the entire country is going to get behind a solution. But the CCL is only one example of many organizations who are doing their best in their own ways... it would be wise for Commit2Respond not to encourage just one strategy such as Climate Mobilization.

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Breaking Clean Tour

A tenth generation Appalachian Family, Four Generations of Coal Mining, One Goal: A Clean Future. A Just Transition begins now . . .

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All are invited to the Willamette River Revival, 8/2, Sunday, noon - 7pm

It is a community-based festival on the Cathedral Park waterfront. The Grand Ronde tribe will host a traditional native American salmon bake. There will be live folk/bluegrass music, tabling by environmental groups, native American craft demos, guided walks and other activities. Tabling and salmon bake are free. For tabling & info: Barbara at or 503-954-3142

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UUCWI Constructed a Resource Handout: "What I Can Do"

The HO was based on one KD Moore provided during UUC's Climate Action Week in February. It consisted of suggestions under 3 major headings: "Stop Making It Worse"; "Protect, Restore, Rehabilitate" and "Start Over". The opposite side contained numerous resources including organizations, suggested readings and value statements from the Native American community including the principles of the "Honorable Harvest" and the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois nations) "Basic Call to Consciousness” to the UN (1977) "The original instruction directs that we who walk the earth are to express a great respect, an affection and a gratitude towards all the spirits which create and support life." It was included in the order of Service and at our Earth and Ocean Appreciation Month events.  We also posed weekly questions for introspection and discussion in our ENews based on C2R's weekly themes. 

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UUCWI Held a Service titled "The (Im)Morality of Climate Change"

A lay led service explored, with words and images, the impacts and injustices of Carbon Pollution inviting congregants to examine the array of emotions, possibly repressed surrounding the topic. It was followed by a forum to openly share congregants' reactions.

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Earth and Ocean Appreciation Month 3/22// to 4/24

UUCWI along with the Greening Congregations of Whidbey Island sponsored 6 events 2 of which focused on water crisis: global, regional, California's and included a report on our island's water status. The lead event featured the film Our Sacred Obligation: The Totem Pole Journey 2014; "Thirsty for Justice: The Struggle for the human right to water"; “Making Polluters Pay: The Carbon Tax Option” featuring Carbon Washington's Initiative 732; A book report on Elizabeth Kolbert’s best selling book, The Sixth Extinction and concluding with Sharon Abreu's Climate Monologues, a one woman musical, multimedia show highlighting real people.

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Earth Treasure Vase Global Healing Project, June 19th & 20th

Join us in welcoming the Earth Treasure Vase Global Healing Project to Portland with an Earth Treasure Vase to be buried near the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Stories of these sacred vessels, and this particular vase will be shared. Bring prayers and small offerings to fill the Vase for its journey up the Columbia River. Light refreshments will be served. Friday, June 19th The Kenton Wellness Cooperative, 8315 N. Denver Ave, 97217 6:30 – 8pm. Bring your drum, rattle, voice and prayers, your grief and joy, your love for Earth. Radical Joy for Hard Times & Your Nature Connect also invite you to bring prayers and small offerings to fill the Earth Treasure Vase. This is a family-friendly, free event. Saturday, June 20th Annual Earth Global Exchange Celebration – Kelley Pt. Park, 1pm - 4pm Solstice Sunday, June 21st Healing Journey on the Waters - 300+ mile caravan in unison up the Gorge begins. Registration is required. (You can also join us at selected sites.) Contact Judy Todd for details. Judy Todd, Your Nature Connect NW, Founder and Guide 503-260-4995 judy@yournatureconnect Laura Feldman, Community Activist, Educator and Custodian of the Vase 503-724-9901

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Discussion Course: The Psychology of Climate Change

It was the survey we conduced of our church members a couple years ago that got me especially interested in this topic. 95% of our congregation agreed or strongly agreed with the following statement: “Climate change is real and is mostly human caused.” Yet, despite this, I know that most of the people in my congregation go about their daily lives more-or-less as if climate change does not exist. I’m sure we are not unique in this respect -- I have observed this routinely. Based on those survey results, I concluded that there was little point in hosting more presentations at our church regarding the science of climate change. Instead, what we needed was a way to get more of our congregation “unstuck”. By that, I mean that they translate their understanding and acceptance of climate science into positive actions that are integrated into their daily lives to whatever extent their personal time constraints allow.

With that in mind, my minister and I recently co-facilitated a two-session discussion course which we called “Who Asked for Climate Change, Anyway?” We limited attendance to 15 in order to allow everyone a good opportunity to contribute to the discussion. Here is the course description we came up with:

Our daily life is difficult enough as it is. We really don’t need climate change added on top of all that! Awareness of climate change triggers uncomfortable emotions such as fear, anxiety, anger, guilt, sadness, and helplessness. In this course, we will discuss and share these feelings. Then we will envision a new cultural norm that, in many ways, is far more health-giving and fulfilling. The goal is to accept our feelings, adopt a hopeful outlook, and translate those feelings into constructive actions that help make life better for ourselves, our loved ones, and the world community. Wednesday, April 15 and 22, 7-9pm, Room 10. This class will be facilitated by Douglas Taylor and Wes Ernsberger.

The course was based on articles, book excerpts, and videos that I have collected over the last couple of years. Here are links to the course materials and additional references:

We felt that the course went quite well. The majority of those attending were already environmentally-oriented but we also drew a number of people from our congregation who are not generally involved in environmental issues. As it turns out, this course was pertinent to everyone because our environmental activists haven’t focused much on the psychological aspects either. I don’t know if the course resulted in anyone getting “unstuck” but a number of participants said that they appreciated a chance to talk in a group setting about the uncomfortable emotions that the climate change problem elicits. So perhaps its main value was of a “support group” nature. We intend to offer something like this again.

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