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Moral and Momentous Climate Action: Interfaith Power & Light Success Story 7.26.14

July 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

If you follow climate politics, you know it can often feel like the moral, pro-action voices in the debate are drowned out (pun intended) by those who choose to turn a blind eye. However, you may be happy to hear that while some politicians argue themselves into a stand-still, the morally-motivated folks with Interfaith Power & Light are marching swiftly forward.  Regardless of whether you yourself are a person of faith, we think you’ll find this ethical climate action to be remarkable.






Interfaith Power & Light is composed of groups from a diverse array of religious backgrounds, and has affiliates in 40 U.S. states.  Acting to be truly good “stewards of the Earth” for the benefit of all people, Interfaith Power & Light is taking momentous, measurable action.

Before we dive into their incredible accomplishments so far, we’d like to give you a glimpse of how important the work of Interfaith Power and Light is. Did you know there are 370,000 American congregations? There are approximately 60 million weekly worshippers in the U.S. Those stats are impressive. Think about that potential for morally-based climate advocates. Wow.

And now, three ways Interfaith Power and Light continues to be wildly successful:


1) Cool Congregations Certification

Make room, LEED, the Cool Congregations Certification is here!  Interfaith Power & Light has sparked a huge boost in action by recently launching this national program, giving much needed recognition to congregations acting on climate.  Already, there are 20 Certified Cool Congregations.  Listen: these first 20 congregations are averaging 42 percent greenhouse gas reductions,  preventing 2.2 million pounds of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere each year.  They’re also saving money on energy, freeing up funds to help others move towards clean energy!

Ready to have your hope boosted even further? Notice that key word “average.” Yep.  Half of those congregations have achieved over 42 percent carbon reductions. Take a look:



a) St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Framingham, MA has achieved 110 percent carbon reduction.  You read that correctly. Through 168 solar panels, they produce three times as much energy as the church uses. Where does that extra clean energy go?   It is used by churches who are unable to install their own solar panels!

In this photo,  St. Andrew Episcopal Church in Framingham celebrates the church’s new solar panels with Bishop Bud Cederholm blessing the panels via a cherry picker.

Image Credit: Interfaith Power & Light





b) Crosslake Presbyterian in Crosslake, MN is another climate champion, Gold Certified Cool Congregation, achieving a 110 percent carbon reduction equivalent. This cocoolcongregation2ngregation uses geothermal heating and cooling, energy efficient doors, windows, lighting, and insulation, solar panels, and wind energy. To top if off, they maintain a parcel of forest, to offset even more carbon. They aren’t even done yet! Next, they plan to triple their photovoltaic system, applying the dollar value of electricity produced to the purchase of solar furnaces for Habitat for Humanity homes, lowering energy costs for low-income families. Taking care of the planet, and taking care of each other. Talk about a win-win.

Image Credit: Interfaith Power & Light



There are 18 other Certified Cool Congregations with stories you would love. There are also toolkits, tips, and resources for faith groups interested in being involved and/ or becoming certified HERE.

You also don’t want to miss the success stories from this year’s Cool Congregations CHALLENGE, which challenged congregations to act in one of five different climate and energy categories.  Click here to find out how to enter the challenge for next year!

Look: if these congregations can have negative carbon footprints, and if these varying Cool Congregation Certified houses of worship can average 42 percent carbon emission reductions, surely U.S. states can comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA)’s 30 percent carbon pollution reduction target.

Speaking of the EPA, the next area of successful work we’d like to highlight is  Interfaith Power & Light’sinvolvement with…


2) The Clean Power Planmoralobligation

The EPA Clean Power Plan has been at the forefront of everyone’s mind lately.  As you may know, there are four public EPA hearings coming up. These provide a vital opportunity for citizens to participate in the discussion on the proposed standards  for  power plants.   True to form, Interfaith Power & Light  has seized this opportunity to be involved in climate action. Here are a few highlights:

a) State chapters including Iowa Interfaith Power & Light  and USCAN member NC Interfaith Power & Light held their  own hearings on the carbon pollution standards, transcribed the comments, and submitted them to the EPA en masse. Wow.


b)  Several other state Interfaith Power & Light chapters have sent out action alerts, calls for volunteers, and resources to enable congregations to participate in the Clean Power Plan hearings. These acting chapters include:

USEPA Photo by Eric Vance. Public domain image

In this photo, Virginia Interfaith Power & Light Board Member Reverend M. Dele speaks with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

Image Credit: Interfaith Power & Light      


3) Carbon Covenant

As if the Cool Congregations program and the Clean Power Plan involvement weren’t enough, Interfaith Power & Light runs a wonderful program called Carbon Covenant. Carbon Covenant addresses the number one source of carbon emissions in the developing world, deforestation.  The program protects forests from illegal logging, promotes sustainable livelihoods, and reforests degraded lands. Here are two of the projects:


a) Save the Monks Community Forest in Cambodia4929906920_c165681f6e_z

In the face of widespread deforestation, this project helps the Samron monks protect  an 18,261 hectare area of forest and the livelihood of the surrounding communities. Illegal logging has plummeted, local villagers are now engaged in the action, and hope for the future of the forest and  region is rising!


Image Credit: Interfaith Power & Light

b) Restore Deforested Lands in Ghanadeforestation

This project is introducing alternative livelihood programs to unemployed youth and women; establishing woodlots of about 10 acres each in every project community; reducing bushfires by 50 percent ; and regenerating 30 percent of the forest cover in degraded areas and generally promoting awareness and education about the need to conserve forest resources.

Image Credit: Interfaith Power & Light


See MORE projects of Carbon Covenant here!


Regardless of whether you are associated with a religion, this climate action is inspirational, right?  There are so many effective and hope-restoring Interfaith Power & Light programs that we couldn’t possibly tell you about all of them here.

  • Be sure to check out their website for more!
  • Keep up with their updates on Social Media!



  • Last and certainly not least, if you know of a church, mosque, temple, or other any religious group who might be interested, tell them about Interfaith Power & Light!   

We are thankful to have Interfaith Power & Light as part of the US Climate Action Network, and look forward to continuing to connect and spread their critical work!






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The Success Story Saturday blog is about SUCCESS in the climate action network. Our network is composed of a diverse array of organizations, united by a common goal of acting on climate change, coming together to produce immense positive results. THAT’S powerful. THAT’S worth sharing. The success stories featured here will include a range of triumphs, including landmark accomplishments of USCAN members, inspirational collaborations in the network, general flourishing of critical organizations, and more. Each story will have one thing in common: a reason to feel optimistic. 



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