II: Climate Justice and Unitarian Universalism

Part of UN Sunday

As the UUA’s webpage for Climate and Environmental Justice states, “All life is interconnected. From the forest to the sea to humanity itself, each thread of being is woven into a single fabric of existence. We embrace nature’s beauty and are in awe of its power. We care for our environment so that it may sustain life for generations to come. We do this in partnership with those most impacted by environmental destruction, who are often marginalized in the larger culture. Often these ‘frontline’ communities are impacted hardest and have fewest resources to recover. We collaborate because it is only with the knowledge and experience of these communities that equitable and sustainable change can happen.”

Since its first General Assembly in 1961, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations has voted 39 times to adopt general resolutions, business resolutions, statements of conscience, and actions of immediate witness related to the environment and/or climate justice:

The UUA General Assembly adopted a resolution expressing concern about pollution and natural resources in 1966, and another resolution urging congregations to take action for environmental justice in 1994. In recent years, the urgency of climate justice action has become real to UUs, who adopted a 2015 Action of Immediate Witness in support of a strong, compassionate global climate agreement at COP21 (what ended up becoming the Paris Agreement), a 2018 Action of Immediate Witness about solidarity with indigenous water protectors, and a 2019 Action of Immediate Witness to build the movement for a Green New Deal.

Unitarian Universalist youth and adults have been extremely active in the youth-led Global Climate Strike movement, and much of the UUA’s current engagement on climate justice is done in partnership with the Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth (UUMFE).

Create Climate Justice

UUMFE led the development, in collaboration with the UU@UN and the UUA’s Green Sanctuary Program, of an online campaign for Unitarian Universalist climate justice organizing called Create Climate Justice (CCJ). The priority focus areas for CCJ are:

  • Strengthening Unitarian Universalist communications and mutual support networks for Climate Justice
  • Mobilizing UUs in solidarity with Indigenous front-line communities
  • Supporting the Just Transition to an ecological civilization through partnerships and civic engagement

Use the platform to network with fellow UU climate folx and to find and share resources and events. Get involved with Create Climate Justice!

Green Sanctuary Program

Unitarian Universalist congregations can get involved with this program and take actions to become accredited as a “Green Sanctuary.” This means your congregations has ongoing activities and processes to reduce carbon emissions and make change for climate justice locally. Find out how your congregation can become a Green Sanctuary.

UU Ministry for Earth

 The Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth has ongoing programs to help Unitarian Universalist individuals, congregations, and our denomination as a whole, live more fully into practices that honor and protect our planet and all that live on it. UUMFE has a wealth of resources for engagement in this work, through CCJ and beyond!

Climate Justice and the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism

Here is a brief breakdown of UU Principles and their connection to climate justice:

The inherent worth and dignity of every person:

We as a society are not recognizing every person’s inherent worth and dignity when we allow some people and communities to continue being neglected by policy-makers and have their lives and well-being destroyed by the changing climate. Every person has inherent worth and dignity. We must recognize the worth of people, not of companies and profits, in order to achieve climate justice for all.

Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations:

Climate justice calls for equity. We must recognize those people and communities who are most at-risk, and focus our efforts on uplifting their struggles and their solutions. Shift the power away from polluters and destroyers and towards people and communities who are most at risk.

Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations:

Encouraging one another to spiritual growth in our congregations means recognizing that not all people are starting from the same place in the climate justice struggle. Some have been working on this for generations. Others are brand new but all in. What we need is for everyone to be all in and to work together. We cannot do this if our movement is divided. Everyone has something they can contribute.

A free and responsible search for truth and meaning:

As humanity searches for meaningful solutions, we must heed the truths and expertise of those who are most impacted by the climate crisis. Accurate information and data, as well as the stories of how climate change is already impacting communities around the world, must be freely accessible to all.

The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large:

Democratic institutions demand engagement from those who are part of them. If we want our governments, institutions, and leaders to work for climate justice, we must be active locally to make our voices heard.

The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all:

The laudable goal of peace, liberty, and justice for all demands a recognition of the fact that like it or not, we are a world community. We cannot achieve this goal without true collaboration to create climate justice. Every part of our world community must work to further our common goals of peace, prosperity, and planet.

Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part:

There is no way to truly work for climate justice without a deep understanding of our place in the interdependent web of all existence.