COP 21 & Beyond – NorCal Interfaith Gathering

26 January 2016, 5:13 PM
COP 21 & Beyond – NorCal Interfaith Gathering

On Friday, January 8th California Interfaith Power & Light hosted a Post-COP21 NorCal Interfaith Gathering with 50 faith leaders from Marin, Alameda, and Contra Costa County Counties, San Francisco, the Peninsula, Sacramento and Stockton. Participants heard from IPL Founder & President The Rev. Canon Sally Bingham, Bishop Marc Handley Andrus of the Episcopal Diocese of California, and Jesse Simons, Chief of Staff for the Sierra Club reflect on the Paris Agreement. Echoing the words of Secretary of State John Kerry each presenter in different ways acknowledged that the historic multinational agreement is the floor and not the ceiling. Simons powerfully utilized a river metaphor from a recent family vacation and encouraged attendees to keep paddling toward that clean energy future. Andrus described the unique “pop-up” worship services he organized and other activities engaged in by faith leaders at the COP. Bingham said that she has never been more hopeful in her more than 20 years of work on climate change.

The second panel focused on the questions of “what now?” and began with Sarah Shanley Hope of the Solutions Project describing her organizations vision for a 100 percent clean energy for all. Rev. Ken Chambers of West Side Missionary Baptist Church spoke of the local campaign to keep coal exports out of Oakland. Peninsula Interfaith Climate Action Network’s Debbie Mytels offered examples of how regional working groups can provide robust local programming and advocacy. 

Following the panel discussions and Q & A, participants gathered in groups based on their congregation’s region to discuss possibilities for greater collaboration in 2016. Rabbi Jonathan Singer invited participants to attend Congregation Emanu-El’s evening service where his message linked the story of Moses with the important work of speaking truth to power on climate change. Thank you to Congregation Emanu-El, the United Religions Initiative, panelists and attendees for helping kick off 2016 with an inspiring gathering.

On January 20 in Pasadena, CIPL will host a unique event, combining education on El Nino, an overview of COP 21 and a consideration of next steps for people of faith featuring the perspectives of Dr. William Patzert, climate scientist at NASA/JPL, and Dr. Ellen Druffel, marine chemist at UC Irvine. The gathering will take place at Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church and is co-hosted by the Arroyo Interfaith Environmental Coalition, a CIPL regional working group with members from the Episcopalian, Mennonite, Methodist, Quaker, Jewish, Pagan, Presbyterian, Baha’i, United Church of Christ communities. Click here to RSVP and to learn more. Click here to see other upcoming events.


IPL is continuing to promote the Paris Pledge. This ongoing campaign is a practical way in which individuals and congregations can commit to implementing the type of measures that are needed globally to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The pledge provides strategies to reduce your carbon pollution by 50% by 2030 and be carbon-neutral by 2050. Click here for more information and to sign up. A list of more than 4500 individuals and congregations who signed the pledge prior to COP21 were presented in Paris by Sister Joan Brown of New Mexico IPL, IPL Executive Director Susan Stephenson, and President, The Rev. Sally Bingham on an 11-foot scroll which will now hang in the US State Department.

As CIPL looks ahead into 2016 we anticipate expansion of our local working groups and increased advocacy in Sacramento. We are working on an updated solar resource guide as well as a series of webinars featuring congregations who have recently installed photovoltaic systems. CIPL is continuing to monitor the devastating natural gas leak in Southern California and is increasing our engagement at the local level to ensure that regional Air Resource Boards make regulatory decisions based on strong health, safety and environmental recommendations.