100% Renewable Energy — Rev. Dr. Vincent Kolb’s remarks

On June 19, 2019, the Rev. Dr. Vincent Kolb (pastor of Sixth Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh) gave remarks at the 2019 100% Renewable Lobby Day rally organized by our friends at PennEnvironment.

He’s kindly shared his remarks with us here. Since these remarks were necessarily brief, at the end you’ll find a few links to learn more about the exciting energy resolution of the Pittsburgh Presbytery. Prefer video? His remarks begin at 27 min here.

Good morning!

Eleanor Roosevelt once said

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

We have gathered today because we have a beautiful dream: 100% renewable energy for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 2050.

I am here to tell you that people of faith in southwestern PA are working hard to make this beautiful dream a reality. In Pittsburgh Presbytery in 2017, our region of churches submitted a resolution to our national church to divest our national resources from fossil fuels. This is a part of a growing worldwide movement, as clean, renewable sources of energy become responsible and profitable investments. Today, approximately 5.5 trillion dollars have been divested from the fossil fuel industry and faith-based organizations are leading the way at 27% of those institutions making divestment commitments!

We have begun a region-wide effort to provide congregations the opportunity to convert to renewable energy sources: solar panels on roofs and undeveloped properties, cooperative purchase of energy needs, affordable energy audits for aging facilities, and the establishment of neighborhood solar cooperatives. This is in keeping with the vision of Mayor Bill Peduto and our City Council in Pittsburgh, which have pledged the Steel City to be 100% clean energy by 2035.

At the same historic Presbytery meeting in December of 2017, our regional body condemned the construction of the Shell Cracker plant in Beaver County, that will emit 2.25 million tons of CO2 annually in a region that is already in the top 2% for cancer risk because of air pollution. We want our region to be a clean energy hub, not a new cancer alley!

We are part of a faith tradition that has affirmed our responsibility to care for the earth as our home and care for all people, especially our most vulnerable populations who are at risk for cancer, disease, and asthma.  Clergy and lay people of faith will continue to advocate for the care of our home, because our sacred scriptures have commanded us to be good stewards of the gifts God has given us.

Rev. Kolb as the crowd begins to assemble on the steps in the Capitol Rotunda

Who wants 100% renewable energy in PA? We do!
Who wants 100% renewable energy in PA? We do!

Thank you!

Want more? Click through to:

  • sign up to host a screening of Paris to Pittsburgh, a National Geographic film that features work cities, towns, and states are doing to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
  • learn about the massive petrochemical complex including an multi-state underground storage facility and the first of several gargantuan “cracker plants” which use “wet gas” from fracking for plastics manufacturing.
  • read the three-part resolution itself.
  • peruse the FAQ page that FossilFreePCUSA created in advance of the the 2018 national divestment overture.
  • join PA IPL’s monthly Policy Update calls to stay current on state and federal climate and clean energy policies. Each month includes positive news, a discussion hook, and one state and one federal action item.



Denominations Call for Transition from Fossil Fuels to Renewable Energy

One of the ways that some religious communities are taking action to protect life and care for creation is to transition away from support of fossil fuels at a policy and governance level.

elcafinalIn August 2016, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America voted at its Churchwide Assembly to move “Toward a Responsible Energy Future.” Read the full text of the statement on page 5 here.

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In July 2015, the thirtieth General Synod of the United Church of Christ (UCC) approved a resolution calling for its pastors, conferences, and members to advocate for a swift transition away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy.

UCC_logo“It is our belief,” the resolution states, “that the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy is among the most compelling and urgent issues of our times.” Further: “…If we do not immediately decrease our use of these fuels and completely eliminate them by the year 2014 all life on earth will likely experience previously unknown devastating results including drought, wildfires, extreme precipitation and cyclones, drinking water scarcity, diminished food production, population migrations, human mortality, violent conflicts, and species extinction, thereby upsetting the whole ecology of Earth.”

The full text of the resolution is available for download here.

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UUA logo_gradientIn June 2014, the Unitarian Universalist Association approved a resolution calling for divestment from fossil fuels at its annual General Assembly. It says, in part: “The climate crisis threatens Earth systems through warming, destabilization of the atmosphere and climate, sea level rise, and the acidification of the oceans, of which the brunt of the burden has fallen and will fall on the poorest people in the world, who are least responsible for the crisis.”

The full text of this resolution is available online here.

Islamic Horizons: Divest and Reinvest

Reprinted from Islamic Horizons, September-October 2016, pp. 38-39
written by Saffet Abid Catovic, one of the authors of the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change. [Recommended further reading about mosques in Morrocco taking action, and about a mosque in North Carolina responding to the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change.]
Islamic Horizons COP21 and divestment

Muslims involved in the environmental “green” movement often cite two of Prophet Muhammad’s (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) hadiths: “Indeed the world is green and sweet, and indeed God has left you to remain to see how you behave. So beware of the world, beware of the world” and “People have common share in three (things): Grass (herbage/vegetation for humanity and animals), water and fire (light, heat and power, which includes the electrical power derived from burning fossil fuels and other sources of energy).”

Most conflicts throughout history, regardless of their size, can be tied, in one way or another, to one side’s access and/or control over these finite life-sustaining resources. Currently, these resources are not being shared equitably, in terms of the present members of creation and those yet to come. Just as the global faith communities and their leaders have declared their intent to battle climate change by releasing statements and declarations (e.g., the Papal Encyclical on the Environment and Climate Change and Laudato Si), local faith leaders must continue to mobilize their congregations to pursue this cause.

Meeting in Istanbul on Aug. 17-18, 2015, over 60 Muslim scholars, academics, and environmental activists from around the world adopted an Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change. This bold grassroots initiative was driven by various NGOs, including…

Read the rest of the article at Islamic Horizons (you will have to navigate to pp. 38-39), or via a PDF of the same article.

The Islamic Declaration on Climate Change that was released in the space between the publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si, and the COP21 talks in Paris.  You can find links to the encyclical, the Islamic Declaration, and many other multifaith resources published in that time period on our website here.

We recommended clicking through to read about how these statements are leading to actino in mosques in Morrocco, and in a mosque in North Carolina.]

Divest at the outlet.

power-outlet No matter how contemporary or traditional their services, every congregation plugs in somewhere, sometime.  Whether we’re running the coffee maker, lighting the gathering space, copying the newsletter, printing the lesson, chilling the cole slaw, or projecting the lyrics, we plug in when we need to, and we don’t think much about it. The electricity that makes all those things work comes from somewhere.   In Pennsylvania, we can now choose what electricity we buy.  We put inexpensive safety covers on our outlets to protect our children from the electricity.  Now we can also afford to protect our children and God’s Earth from pollution released in generating the electricity. Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light has teamed up with another non-profit, Groundswell, to join their Community Power Project.  Through this project faith communities, community organizations, schools,  small businesses, and now households can buy 100% clean, FIXED PRICE electricity in their existing budgets.  Groundswell joins bill-payers together Continue reading Divest at the outlet.