Overview of Green Sanctuary 2030

Part of Green Sanctuary

All congregations are invited to use this program whether or not they are interested in Green Sanctuary accreditation or reaccreditation. If accreditation or reaccreditation is desired, the congregation must document its assessment, action plans, and impacts of significantly increased participation for campaigns to meet the following three intersectional goals.


MITIGATION is action to reduce the causes of global warming. Mitigation is essential for climate justice and a livable future with fewer disastrous climate impacts. Mitigation to accomplish a livable and just world needs to reduce global net carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 and to near zero by mid-century, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Robust mitigation will reduce the risks of severe climate impacts and make possible a transition to a sustainable future for all.

To meet this goal, after determining the baseline carbon footprint at the beginning of the Green Sanctuary process, the congregation must describe and implement a combination of strategies aiming toward or exceeding the IPCC targets of a 45% reduction by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050. Congregations should determine the actions that will have the greatest impact - which will likely include a combination of the congregation, the wider community, state and/or the world. Engagement in meaningful and ongoing civic action advocating mitigation is required. Read some examples of mitigation activities (Word, 3 pages).

Adaptation and Resilience

Adaptation is the process of (a) reducing vulnerabilities to the harmful effects of climate change (b) making the most of potentially beneficial opportunities associated with positive responses to the crisis. Resilience is the capacity to maintain function in the face of external stresses created by the climate-change crisis.

  • Congregational Adaptation/Resilience

To meet this goal, building upon the assessment of the congregation’s knowledge and commitment, the congregation must plan and implement an accumulation of actions and experiences that transform the culture of the congregation, creating a foundation for long-term response to climate crisis.

  • Adaptation: similar to the aforementioned work in the community, congregations should address their own adaptation to increasingly severe climate conditions and weather events as applicable.

  • Resilience: The plan should provide climate-focused educational and spiritual content to worship services, religious education and congregational life. The intended impact is twofold: greater awareness of the climate-change realities we are facing and will continue to face, and the spiritual grounding in Unitarian Universalist values that is needed to inspire and sustain congregants to engage in the long haul of climate justice work.

In addition to their congregational plan, Green Sanctuary candidates must choose one or both of the following systems as part of their Adaptation/Resilience campaign:

  • Natural Systems Adaptation/Resilience:

Congregations identify a local or regional ecosystem endangered or impacted by existing and intensifying climate change. After assessing the current status, the congregation initiates actions or collaborates with existing groups that seek to increase the ecosystem’s capacity to withstand climate change, and documents results.

  • Human Systems Adaptation/Resilience:

Congregations identify a local or regional human community endangered or impacted by existing and intensifying climate change. After assessing the current status, the congregation initiates actions or collaborates with existing groups that seek to increase this community’s capacity to withstand climate change. Examples of this would be addressing disaster preparedness and response and recovery. If this work is done in collaboration with a front-line community, this could also count toward the justice goal, see below. Congregations are encouraged to select actions that will enable them to submit measurable results in their application for accreditation.


Working in partnership with communities who experience and confront the reality that the greatest impacts of the climate crisis are disproportionately imposed on those (a) historically oppressed and least responsible for the crisis (b) with the fewest resources with which to face the crisis while already under environmental stresses, and (c) future generations. These communities are sometimes referred to as front-line, vulnerable or marginalized.

To meet this goal, congregations will deepen or expand an existing collaborative relationship or form a new partnership with a front-line community or front-line led organization that is battling the effects of climate change and the economic and political systems that sustain climate injustice. In their application congregations describe the process of building and strengthening that relationship and identify the primary focus of the group. Because the focus of this work must address the priority of the collaborating group, the project might be described as part of the campaigns that address mitigation or adaptation/resilience. Congregations will provide a statement of intended long-term impacts resulting from the partnership (including impact on the congregation) and they will describe the practical steps for action identified in collaboration with their partners. When the plan has been implemented, congregations document actions taken and resulting actual impacts. If it is not imposing on their time and/or capacity, partners from front-line groups and communities could be invited to provide feedback and assessments, if they wish.