Solar array on the rooftop of Global Ministries’ headquarters in Atlanta, GA. PHOTO: JENNY PHILLIPS
April 22, 2021 | ATLANTA
For Release: IMMEDIATE
Dan Curran for Global Ministries
Mary Lou Greenwood Boice
Director of Communications, Global Ministries
Witnessing firsthand the devastating impact of the growing climate crisis on its operations and the people it ministers to around the world, leaders of United Methodist Global Ministries have joined a coalition of United Methodist agencies pledging to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across the organizations’ ministries, facilities, operations and investments by 2050.
Global Ministries is the worldwide mission and development agency of The United Methodist Church. Founded in 1819, Global Ministries today supports more than 200 missionaries in over 70 countries, including in the United States. It has personnel, projects and partners in 115 countries. As a part of Global Ministries, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), founded in 1940, is the global humanitarian aid and development arm of The United Methodist Church.
“The devastating environmental and socioeconomic impacts of the unfolding climate crisis are witnessed every day by our missionaries and staff around the world,” said Roland Fernandes, general secretary of United Methodist Global Ministries and the United Methodist Committee on Relief. “Whether through missionaries serving as evangelists, educators, health professionals or agriculturalists; helping families recover from repeated disasters; praying with those forced to migrate; or working to give people access to clean water and renewable energy, we see firsthand the need for bold action. While environmental sustainability has been a priority for us for a while, we are excited to join with other UMC agencies in committing to net-zero emissions by 2050.”
As a part of the first net-zero collaborative commitment of its kind, Global Ministries and the agencies released “Our Climate Commitment to Net-Zero Emissions.” The joint statement acknowledges that the UMC “has long affirmed our individual and collective responsibility to address the unfolding climate crisis.” Given these values, the group said it was “called by our faith, informed by science and led by our relationships with impacted communities” to respond urgently.
The statement is endorsed by 11 general secretaries and agencies of The United Methodist Church:
- The General Board of Church and Society (GBCS)
- The General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM)
- The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM)
- The General Commission on Archives and History (GCAH)
- The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women (GCSRW)
- The General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA)
- Discipleship Ministries
- United Methodist Communications (UMCom)
- United Methodist Men (UMM)
- United Methodist Women (UMW)
- Wespath Benefits and Investments (Wespath)
The new commitment reinforces previous efforts by Global Ministries and UMCOR to address the unfolding climate crisis:
- In 2017, Global Ministries received LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) platinum certification for its building renovation in midtown Atlanta. This is the highest possible recognition for environmental sustainability from the U.S. Green Building Council. The agency was the first faith institution to build and occupy a LEED platinum building in the state of Georgia.
- A pilot energy study is planned for 13 of its health clinics in West Africa to help the agency develop a strategic plan for financing renewable energy access at these clinics. Learnings from this process will shape energy planning across health facilities.
- In 2019, grants from Global Ministries’ Environmental Sustainability program and UMCOR-funded new solar and water pump systems that increased productivity at the Kamisamba Farm in Kamina, Democratic Republic of Congo, which means productivity, nutritious food and income have also increased in the communities of the families trained by Kamisamba workers.
- In 2021, the agency approved a pilot project to test solar-powered vaccine refrigerators in three clinics in Liberia. The refrigerators will be installed this summer.
- In 2021, the agency conducted an energy audit on its Atlanta headquarters that identified additional efficiency opportunities that will save the agency up to 17% on its energy budget per year.
The agency’s next step toward net-zero commitment includes an analysis of its ministries, facilities, operations and investments.
The commitment comes at a time of growing climate action around the globe. Following the U.S.’s decision to reenter the Paris Climate Agreement, nine of the world’s 10 largest economies have stated ambitions to become carbon neutral. Meanwhile, corporate commitments to achieve net-zero have tripled in the last year.
Today’s announcement coincides with Earth Day, an international celebration of our planet, as well as the Biden Administration’s virtual “Leaders Summit on Climate” – a meeting of world leaders focused on climate action leading up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November.
Global Ministries will work with the other signatories in the coming months to solidify collaborative actions and strategies associated with the statement.
To contribute to Global Ministries’ Environmental Sustainability program, give to Advance #3021951.
About the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church
Global Ministries is the worldwide mission and development agency of The United Methodist Church. Founded in 1819, Global Ministries today supports more than 200 missionaries in over 70 countries, including the United States. It has personnel, projects, and partners in 115 countries. Learn more about Global Ministries by visiting www.umcmission.org or by following www.facebook.com/GlobalMinistries and Twitter.com/UMCmission.