What We Do

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Download program slips about PA IPL’s work

Climate Change and Religious Values — a page of diverse quotes compiled by Interfaith Power & Light

As our mission statement says: “Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light is a community of congregations, faith-based organizations, and individuals of faith responding to climate change as an ethical and moral issue, through advocacy, education, energy conservation, energy efficiency, stewardship, and the use and promotion of clean, renewable energy.

Put more simply, we want to help faith communities respond from a place of deep faith to the challenge of climate change, and to think about energy usage as a matter of stewardship.  We carry this out in three ways:

Energy Efficiency and Clean Energy

PA IPL works to connect member congregations with energy assessments — in some areas low-level “cobweb audits” are available for free. Depending on the size and age of the building, the assessment can take from 2-4 hours and provides a report for congregations to understand the way that they currently use energy and identify specific options to start saving energy immediately and in the long term.  Click here to become a member.

We have recently depended on the user-friendly PA Public Utility Commission website PAPowerSwitch to help individuals and congregations choose electricity made by wind and solar… but recent changes make that last piece a bit harder.  They took out the choice slider that allowed people to specify 100% wind or solar.  We’re speaking with our elected officials in Harrisburg!   When it’s cleared up we’ll repost screenshots!   Make sure you choose fixed-price options if you do this — variable-price options were the ones that got so many people into trouble in the winter of 2014.

In the State College area Weatherization First initiative helps local congregations reduce energy usage in our neighbors’ homes directly, and by giving classes in connection with Interfaith Human Services and the county fuel bank.  In NW Philadelphia, the local chapter of PA IPL is forming a solar co-op, and planting trees.  In Paoli, charter member congregation Central Baptist Church challenged themselves to “Get to Zero” (and then to “Stay at Zero”).  Many groups are doing versions of Bright Idea, or considering a Voluntary Carbon Tax Witness or Carbon Tithe.  Direct Creation Care — habitat restoration for climate resilience — is an important part of reconnecting with people and place in several parts of the state, as are “sacred grounds” efforts such as food gardens, or low-input landscapes, composting, habitat gardens, and rain gardens on congregation grounds.

These efforts are important because they keep us focused and help us put our faithful convictions into action, but we know that more will be needed to address the challenge in front of us, and respond to the impacts we are already feeling.

Education

PA IPL serves as a clearinghouse for information on energy usage and climate change. On our newly expanded resource page we provide films and speakers for congregational events; we organize workshops and an annual meeting (for a list of past events, click here). To arrange for a speaker or film showing at your congregation, contact one of our two part-time staff members, Rev. Alison Cornish or Cricket Eccleston Hunter.  They are committed to helping you find the places where your congregation is already active, to “upcycle” those successes by making climate justice connections.

Advocacy

PA IPL represents our members on the local, state, and national level to advocate for legislation that will increase energy efficiency, reduce our contribution to climate change, and respond to climate impacts and justice issues. Our unique message is to focus attention on the moral implications of climate change. Big producers of greenhouse gases, such as the United States and Europe, are wealthy enough to adapt to anticipated weather changes in the short term, these same changes are devastating to poorer countries (who have contributed least to climate pollution) — and we see similar patterns of higher impacts in lower-income areas in the United States, too.

We offer monthly Policy Update calls for those who wish to remain current on state and federal legislation linked to climate change.  We also offer Interfaith Moral Climate Advocacy workshops, and are growing a network of people to act as part of our Sustained Advocacy initiative.

In February 2016, the PA IPL Board published a resolution calling for No New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure.  The resolution built on this 2011 ethical analysis of fracking, discussing gas development in light of climate change —and in the context of the very early information available at that time.

2015 Annual Activities Report.

How we do it

PA IPL depends on the work of its all-volunteer board, its hundreds of supporters, and its part-time executive director, and part time director of program and outreach. We are funded by individual and congregational membershipsdonations, and the generosity of our partner organizations.  A few corporate sponsors provide additional support for particular programs.

IPL

Interfaith Power & Light

As a state affiliate, we have received major grants from National Interfaith Power & Light. The first was to run our EERS campaign in the summer of 2010, and the second helped to support the hiring of an executive director. In 2012 we implemented regrants for our Clean Air Promise campaign and matched a $12,000 challenge grant. For 2013, National IPL has awarded us a $10,000 grant to help us create a circle of major donors.

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The Rock Ethics Institute of Penn State assisted PA IPL with payment of conference and event expenses (such as speaker travel costs) for 5 of our early years to promote ethics education on climate change, and, following Pope Francis’ publication of Laudato Si: Care of Our Common Home, provided us with a direct grant of $10,000 for programming related to that encyclical. This support has helped with numerous public events, as well as the purchase of several copies of the film Renewal to show in congregations across the State, and underwriting for distribution of of Laudato Si during its first year.