TORONTO – On the heels of Earth Week, The United Church of Canada released its second Sustainability Report, which highlights the work it is doing to combat the climate crisis through a lens of four climate pillars: putting its own house in order, connecting with the earth, raising spirited voices, and responding to climate impact.
“Our second Sustainability Report is a testament to our dedication, resilience, and creativity in problem-solving,” says the Right Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne, Moderator. “A small sampling of how we are correcting wrongs, lightening the way we walk in Creation, and healing our planet together, it reflects the hope we share for human prosperity and dignity in a flourishing web of life.”
At the grassroots level, communities of faith are creating impact in their own neighbourhoods. Some highlights:
- Siloam United Church, London, ON – In 2022, the church’s urban farm grew more than 3,000 pounds of fresh produce and distributed it to more than 1,000 people. It also provided employment to seven Canada Summer Jobs Students who were paid a living wage.
- Beacon United Church Community Garden, Yarmouth, NS – The church started their garden 12 years ago with a single test plot, which has now grown to 185 plots. The plots are available to applicants at no cost.
- Sackville United Church, Sackville, NB – The church worked with youth at three anglophone schools, one francophone school, and Fort Folly First Nation students on bike maintenance projects, connecting with seniors through gardening, making reusable lunch wraps, vermicomposting and composting, and making and building a ribbon skirt library at Nukumi House.
- Ralph Connor Memorial United Church in Canmore, AB – The church received a grant to install solar panels and a heat recovery ventilation system, replace fluorescent lights with LEDs, replace a refrigerator and stand-up freezer, and insulate crawl space ductwork under the sanctuary. A year after these changes, Ralph Connor United reduced its GHG emissions by 26.7 percent, natural gas usage by 8.9 percent, electricity usage by 42.4 percent, and energy costs by 26.0 percent.
- Eleven churches completed green audits in 2021-22; to date, more than 90 United churches have completed audits.
Kindred Works, formed in 2022, acts as the development and asset manager of the United Property Resource Corporation (UPRC), repurposing underused properties for mixed-income rental housing and gathering spaces. They currently have eight projects in municipal planning processes.
In 2021, The United Church of Canada joined 36 institutional investors managing $5.5 trillion in assets. As well, The United Church of Canada has a longstanding holding of $1 million in Oikocredit International as one of its more than 500 church-related members, and has signed on to several statements and investment commitments, including:
- Canadian Investor Statement on Climate Change: a member of the Responsible Investment Association, pledging to manage its assets while promoting transition to a low carbon economy
- Canadian Investor Statement on Diversity & Inclusion
- Global Investor Statement in Support of an Effective, Fair and Global Response to COVID-19
- Powering Past Coal Alliance (PPCA), a coalition of national and subnational governments, businesses, and organizations working to advance the transition from unabated coal power generation to clean energy
From vigils to COP26 and 27, from climate protests to Indigenous-led training, The United Church of Canada’s actions reflect its commitment to reduce its own carbon, energy, transportation, and operational footprint, and to work with allies and collaborators for stronger advocacy and church-wide participation.