Catholic model and partner efforts around climate and the energy transition

Have you been interested in getting climate action started at church  and wondering where you might find partners or models?  This shared document is designed to identify such lead/models and make it easier to announce, find, or form such partnerships.  It’s always easier where two or more or gathered, and the early church did send folks out “two by two”. Please add what you are inspired to do or know is happening, and make your name into a link so people can reach you.  This document includes sections on System-Wide Shifts, Parish-based, Diocesan Efforts, Schools and Learning Circles, Universities and Congregations, and Land-Related categories.

In the U.S., a good place to start is browsing the websites of The Catholic Climate Covenant, which started in 2006 as a partnership with the US States Conference of Catholic Bishops and is now managed by Jose Arguto.  CCC, started by Dan Misleh, was inspired by the USCCB’s 2001 statement on climate change, supported by 16 national partners which include the USCCB, Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities USA, the Catholic Health Association, congregations of religious men and women, and other national organizations.

The Global Catholic Climate Movement launched in January 2015 with an initial presentation to the Pope that month, in the Philippines and May 2015 sign-on by the papal office to the 1.5 C petition (ultimately signed by over 900,000 worldwide and brought on foot from Rome to the Paris COP-21 climate negotiations by Yeb Sano). GCCM is now focused on prayer, spirituality, retreats, divestment support and organizing, and outreach through webinars, World Youth Day and more.

Both GCCM and IPL, below have signed onto turnarounds we need in 6 key areas by 2020.  Specifically, they propose focusing on six milestones across different sectors to achieve significant progress by 2020.

  • Energy from renewables should make up at least 30% of total global electricity generation by 2020, no new coal-fired power plants should be built anywhere in the world, and all existing coal plants should be in the process of being retired by 2020 (closed within the decade).
  • Cities and states fully decarbonise buildings and infrastructure by 2050, with cities upgrading at least 3% of their building stock to zero- or near-zero emissions structures each year. Plans for this should be adopted by 2020.
  • Transportation.  By 2020 electric vehicles should make up at least 15% of new car sales globally, up from around 1% today.  Mass transit utilization needs to double. a 20% increase in fuel efficiencies for heavy-duty vehicles and a 20% decrease in greenhouse-gas emissions from aviation per kilometre travelled. Some cities and countries are phasing out diesel vehicles by 2024 and gas vehicles by 2030 (Paris), all new combustion vehicles by 2030 (India) or 2032 (Scotland).
  • Land.  Enact policies that reduce deforestation and encourage more forest growth. They suggest cutting global deforestation to near zero by 2030 and focusing on agriculture practices that can sequester CO2 in soils.
  • Industry. Heavy industries should plan to cut emissions in half by 2050.
  • Finance. Mobilise at least $1tn a year for climate mitigation and adaptation, mostly in the form of private investments, but with some government efforts to help set up “green bonds”.

Interfaith Power and Light has affirmed the organization is “all in” on the Paris path of 1.5C or “well below 2C”.  IPL is “a religious response to global warming” that started 18 years ago, and Catholics are often on each state Board.  IPL’s mission is to be faithful stewards of Creation by responding to global warming through the promotion of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. IPL seeks to protect the earth’s ecosystems, safeguard the health of all Creation, and ensure sufficient, sustainable energy for all, acknowledging that climate change is one of the biggest threats facing humanity today and the very existence of life – life that religious people are called to protect – is jeopardized by our continued dependency on fossil fuels for energy. Every major religion has a mandate to care for Creation. We were given natural resources to sustain us, but we were also given the responsibility to act as good stewards and preserve life for future generations. Find partners & programs at your state IPL (40 states active) + GreenFaith, especially active in NJ, with ministerial/leadership support and efficiency partnerships and training in the US, and worldwide advocacy & leadership through Our Voices. is a Catholic-affiliated organization (out of the Romero Institute) that is supporting parish and diocesan energy transition work, in partnership with CCC & GCCM.

System-wide shifts are critical for a moral response to climate change; i.e., responding in time to preserve life and ability to flourish.  See Pope Francis & Bill McKibben on this point. One example: Taking responsibility for the carbon intensity of our electricity systems in our communities.

  • 100
  • Parish and Diocesan support for implementation of community choice energy (CCE/CCA) Contact: Sara Nelson (Romero Institute/ and Deacon Warren Hoy (Diocese of Monterey, CA)
  • Catholic, IPL, and other effort to pass statewide energy transition plans, renewable portfolio standards (RPSs, e.g., SB312 the bill for an “80% RPS by 2040”) or other rapid decarbonization plans.  Contact partners for examples of a well-vetted bill, experience recruiting sponsors, flushing out opponents’ arguments, & mobilizing. Contacts: Tom Solomon (, Sr. Joan Brown (IPL NM), or Mark Dunlea (NY).  
  • Catholic support/action for city resolution: 100% clean electricity/energy. Contacts:  Phil Sakamoto (local parish in South Bend, Indiana)
  • People of Faith and Conscience: Renewable Energy for All Day (at our New Mexico Legislative Session – had a lobby training with about 50 people, prayer and round dance with between 75-100 and then lobbying throughout the day on a number of bills. We joined in solidarity at noon with Multicultural Alliance  for a Safe Environment, which NMIPL is part of addressing uranium and nuclear legacy in our state and stopping any future developments. This event was to push for compensation for those who cannot cover health costs from being miners and the downwinders of the initial Trinity Site, first bomb detonation. Day addressed 3 legacies with a call for hope and movement into the future: Doctrine of Discovery Legacy; Nuclear Legacy; Climate Change Legacy.  We also delivered to each representative a one sheet with pictures of houses of worship with solar and our faith basis for Renewable Energy for all with hundreds of signatures from UN Paris Pledge and our morphing of this campaign into our Renewable Energy Ambassadors calling for increased Renewable Portfolio Standard bill 50% Renewables by 2030 and 100% by 2050. Contact: Sr. Joan Brown (IPL NM) mp3 video


    • Inequality and marginalization caused by our extractive socio-economic system and prioritization of the rich over the poor are at the core of the climate crisis.  Hence, intersectional organizing is key. (NM IPL, Romero Institute, others?)


  • is a partnership between a Catholic filmmaker and GCCM Steering Committee member that started in early 2015 and focuses on the situation and solutions regarding climate change, energy, transportation, justice, and inequality..


  • Contact us if you are interested in collaborating on policy pathways for energy transition, community action/parish involvement in bringing about energy transition or need support, from educational hand-outs, to organizing, to curricula, speakers, webinars.





  • Climate outreach to pastors
  • Catholic CCL materials developed by Steve Coleman
  • CCC diocesan day for priests.  Contact: Dan Misleh


    • Bishops Statements on Laudato Si’. Contact Dan Misleh or Marie Venner



  • Available webinars and videos
  • (Steve D. – should we link to something on your end? – could be primary library for all and you could be a key developer for many of us, in the future?)
  • GCCM, CCC, including Laudato Si’ a Framework for Climate Justice
  • Others anyone recommends!




  • Parish resources/hand-outs


CCC and GCCM have parish guides.  Marie is working on more short page or two handouts. What could you use?  Here are some categories where existing resources are available: Advocacy Resources, Awareness / Education and Discussion Resources, Church Statements (pastoral letters, etc), Interfaith, Laudato Si’ Resources, Liturgical, Prayer and Spiritual Resources, Parish Initiatives, Pro Life Resources, Resources to Reduce Own Environmental Harm, Laudato Si in schools. Also see Catholic Climate Covenant‘s Care for Creation Teams

Australia: Catholic EarthCare Australia‘s Parish Initiatives Also see ASSISI training.  Contact Marie or Jacqui if you want to try to bring this 3.5 day community building and Laudato Si’ training program to the US.  United Kingdom, CAFOD‘s Live Simply Award


Laudato Si’


Life and Climate Change


  • How can you reduce carbon this week – what makes the most difference


      • What will it take to limit climate change to 1.5 C – Why we can’t wait (will need to be regularly updated – 2 pp.)
      • Reducing carbon in our lives – where to start? How much is what?: a summary of GHG impacts by areas of our lives/lifestyles and a summary of GHG reduction tips (14 pages, starting with how divergent our impacts are by countries)


  • What is climate change and why does it matter?
  • What does the church say about climate change?
  • Economies for life – examples/alternatives
  • Tips on talking to those who disagree on climate change





NEEN Energy Efficiency Fact Sheets and NEEN Energy Efficiency Case Studies – Catholic EarthCare Australia.  Also see GCCM parish guide for a place to start. You can request CCC’s at this link.



  • Parish movie series.  Contact: Kelly Moltzen (NYC).  Also see film and video list here and CCC’s here.  Contact Marie to update for now.  We will get this on a google doc so anyone can add to it.



Schools and Learning Circles


    • Climate Change: Our Call to Conversion Booklet A four-session process for faith communities developed by 14 Catholic organizations.
    • Fostering Earth Literacy – The great historic mission of our time is to reinvent the human, at the species level, with critical reflection, within the community of life systems, in a time developmental context, by means of story and shared dream experience.




University and Congregation Based



  • Clean energy transition
  • Divestmentsee Catholic invest/divest hub, a project with GCCM, GreenFaith &
  • Building partnerships between scientists and priests/bishops/ theologians for the purpose of promoting Laudato Si’.  The participation of scientists would ensure scientific accuracy and the participation of priests/bishops/ theologians would ensure adherence to Catholic doctrine.  There are existing organizations that might be recruited to cause such partnerships to happen. CCC might be able to provide the administrative infrastructure necessary to oversee such a program.  Networks of scientists committed to speaking to the public about climate change can be found in the University Center for Atmospheric Research’s Climate Voices Science Speakers Network and in the NASA Earth Science Education Forum  Contact:  Dan Misleh, CCC for Ohio example of state Catholic Conference and CCC event with bishop, with tour of local science facilities, meetings with scientists.  Also Dr. Phil Sakimoto, Director, Academic Excellence, & Sustainability Instructor, College of Science, University of Notre Dame, former Program Manager for the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s Space Science Education and Public Outreach Program.



Diocesan Efforts



  • Diocesan revolving funds or loans for building retrofits/upgrades.  Contacts: Deacon Warren Hoy, Diocese of Monterey, CA.  Also Cincinnati Archdiocese.


  • Diocesan-wide solar initiative.  In San Diego, close to ⅔ of parishes have or soon will have solar panels.  Boston is also working on this.


  • Diocesan benchmarking of building efficiency measuring the energy use in the archdiocese’s 2,700 buildings in Chicago and surrounding Cook and Lake counties. The local utility Commonwealth-Edison provided the archdiocese with a list of the 125 non-profits that are using the most energy, of which 63 are Catholic properties, and mostly parish schools. Those buildings are among the most eligible for services available from utilities and prices on purchases. The 2015 Chicago benchmarking report revealed the potential to save up to $184 million annually in energy costs in the 1,840 buildings reporting from all 77 of the city’s neighborhoods, representing about a fifth of the city’s total building energy use.  The report notes that energy accounts for almost a third of a typical building’s costs, and that buildings are responsible for 71% of the GHG emitted in powering the “windy city”.  Benchmarking in and of itself does not ensure energy will be saved. But finding out exactly how much energy a building uses, and when, where and why is an essential step to making energy efficiency and conservation improvements.  With annual energy costs of about $30 million, the EPA tool estimates the archdiocese could save $3 million to $9 million per year on energy. The Archdiocese found the Portfolio Manager program easy to use and also gave the EPA advice on how to improve it, including addressing situations where very different types of buildings are in the same categories. “If we’re lumped into a worship category, the data is skewed when we have storage buildings, rectories, a convent, a school,” said Kevin Marzalik, director of business transactions and affiliated services and interim director of real estate management and development for the archdiocese.  “At Holy Name Cathedral, the height is greater, the volumetrics are greater, the use is probably greater than at a regular community parish.”  He said that while the national benchmarking information is helpful, the archdiocese itself is so large that even benchmarking within their own portfolio provides very useful information.  “We have buildings and campuses that are similar, so why is the energy use at one different than others?” he asked. “We look at the number of floors, the volume, whether there is a gym. We’re also looking to add heating and cooling information from our insurance assessors. We’re grabbing from every source we can to see explanations of why there’s a variance, to point us to low-hanging fruit, and go after that first to get savings for parishes.”  Along with the financial incentives, the Archdiocese like the city and other players see benchmarking as a way to further larger environmental and societal goals. “We see it as part of the mission, protecting our common homes,” Marzalik said.



  • USCCB-CCC Catholic Covenant Energies.  There are over 70,000 buildings owned by the Catholic Church in the United States. What a witness it would be to parishioners, students, and those we serve to see that by reducing energy consumption in those buildings we can to put those savings toward even more efficiency and conservation projects and important mission activities, and to see this activity as a way to honor the Creator by caring for creation and caring for the poor!


    • Archbishop Dennis Schnurr and his top staff, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati has agreed to be the pilot program diocese for the rest of 2016 and into 2017. In his letter encouraging pastors to join the effort he said: “The goals will be to help your parish reduce energy use, saving money on utility bills, and through these concrete measures educate parishioners about Laudato Si’ and encourage them to do likewise in their homes and businesses. As Pope Francis said, “[O]n the national and local levels, much still needs to be done, such as promoting ways of conserving energy. These would include . . . encouraging the construction and repair of buildings aimed at reducing their energy consumption and levels of pollution” (LS, 180).  There are three key components to the program:
      • “Free and Low-Cost Incentives:” To work with local utility companies, energy services providers, and other partners – including Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager and the U.S. Green Building Council – to benchmark energy use, audit buildings, and take advantage of programs and incentives that these partners provide to begin generating immediate savings.
      • Model Revolving Fund/”Retrofit Program:” To provide financing – for select parishes – for projects that are more expensive but can be paid back over a short time frame through the savings that are generated. For example, a parish campus may wish to do a complete lighting retrofit with LED lighting or install sophisticated controls.  NOTE: The Monterey, CA Archdiocese has also initiated a model revolving fund program for parishes.  Contact:  Deacon Warren Hoy.
      • “A Teachable Moment:” To highlight authentic Catholic teaching on caring for creation, caring for the poor, and the promotion of the common good to encourage parishioners, students, and parents to consider how they might also reduce their carbon footprint and rise to the challenges of Laudato Si’.


  • Atlanta Diocesan Laudato Si Action Plan. Contacts: Susan Varlamoff, Atlanta and Kelly Moltzen, NYC and Peter Dunbeck, Boston  (adapting Atlanta plan to local dioceses). The Atlanta Archdiocese is very amenable to providing the text and photos to any Archdiocese interested in putting in their local resources.

The Laudato Si Action Plan was commissioned by Archbishop Wilton Gregory and created by an interdisciplinary group of University of Georgia scientists of various faiths to address most environmental issues put forward by Pope Francis in Laudato Si. It consists of concrete actions ALL houses of worship and their members can take to reduce their environmental footprint. Actions are ranked easy, moderate and advanced. The information is divided into ten chapters: Parish Activities and Education, Energy Conservation and Efficiency, Purchasing and Recycling, Transportation, Water Conservation, Buying and Sharing Food, Creating Sustainable Landscapes, Assisting Climate Vulnerable Populations, Making Laudato Si for Young People, Political Action. A pilot project is underway funded by Laura Turner Seydel and Rutherford Seydel to do energy and water audits for 9 churches and 3 schools through Georgia Interfaith Power and Light. Upgrades will be funded through GIPL grants, a revolving fund in Atlanta or paid outright. Many partners are involved and there is strong interest from several foundations including the Turner Foundation to assist with implementing the Plan for all houses of worship. Other Atlanta Catholic churches have done audits and are making improvements. The Catholic Churches in Australia, New Orleans are using the Action Plan as well as the Atlanta Jewish Community and many Georgia Baptist Churches.




  • Thanksgiving remembrance and ceremony by a local river, addressing Standing Rock and repenting of the Doctrine of Discovery and the extractive economy, pledging an orientation to life  – Contacts: Sr. Miriam MacGillis, Genesis Farm, et al. in Pennsylvania. Marie Venner & Jennifer Allen (GCCM & Loretto) in Denver, Colorado.



  • Genesis Farm is located in Blairstown, New Jersey on 226 acres of preserved farmland. Genesis Farm is an ecological center founded in 1980 as a project of the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell, New Jersey to deepen their commitment to education to help shape a more hopeful future and to place this land into permanent conservation.


  • Watershed-based organizing of farmers and ranchers.  Contact: Miriam MacGillis


    • Doctrine of Discovery



  • Standing Rock / DAPL / “Water is Life” efforts
    • Romero Institute / Lakota Law Center partnership
    • Check Brian’s article


  • Sustainable and local agriculture, community and school gardens
    • Coordination with other farms in the watershed.  Contact: Sr. Miriam MacGillis, Genesis Farm, NJ
    • Metro Atlanta cooperation with University of Georgia (UGA) Cooperative Extension to provide training to install community and school gardens. Curriculum available for all core subjects at UGA School Garden Resources. Captain Planet Foundation grants provides funding for school gardens.


Catholic LS, climate, and sustainability/creation care news



  • David Schaller, Sustainable Practices, highlights/emails three in a weekly email.


  • Brian Roewe,, Eco-Catholic reporter and editor
  • Marie Venner
    • GCCM Blog – International Catholic and climate-focused, also
    • – Pope Francis, spirituality, justice, sustainability, and energy
    • – A rapid shift is possible to a more life-giving economy & system!
    • NCR articles
    • Short resources for parishes and others, upon request
  • Fran Ludwig, MA IPL, also Connecting Catholics on Climate Newsletter


Are you willing to be a contact for other Catholics in your state or tribal nation and help them connect with those they need to find?  If so, please list your name and some of your relevant linkages – also if help or partnerships are needed in any particular areas:  (By the way, anyone with Rohr or FB networks? I have gone to these retreats for 20+ years but am not on FB et al.)


    • CA – Allis, DP, Sara? Have many more. Could divide by region or subject
    • CO Marie Venner, Lakewood/Denver, Colo. IPL Board, GCCM, Loretto Earth Network, Doctrine of Discovery, Maryknoll, Catholic Worker – in-home house of hospitality, Colorado Coalition for a Livable Climate (coalition of orgs), 100% Renewable Energy Networks (thru & with Sierra Club/Solutions Project/Env America), local energy transition/Clean Energy Action, Economy in Service to Life/Regenerative Economy/Leading for Well-Being Network, TRB, SLoCaT and transport decarbonization efforts.
    • GASusan Varlamoff, author of the Laudato Si Action Plan, GIPL Board member, Creation Care Team chairperson for St.John Neumann, retired Director of the Office of Environmental Sciences, University of Georgia, and author of two books (The Polluters, A Community Fights Back, and Sustainable Gardening for the Southeast). Also, Mary Jane Cooper, Our Lady of Lourdes.
    • IL
    • IN – Phil Sakamoto, former NASA, now at Notre Dame in South Bend IN and John Mundell, of Focolare and GCCM, in Indianapolis
    • MA Fran Ludwig
    • MI – Mary Colborn
    • NC– Tom Meyer
    • NJ – Ann Marie Brennan, of GCCM and the Ignatian Christian Life Community (national and international leadership), Jeff Korgen, and Erin Lothes (theology professor)
    • NM Sr. Joan Brown
    • NY –  
      • Archdiocese of NYC – Sr. Carol
      • Statewide Clean Energy Transition – Mark Dunlea
      • Kelly
      • Sacred Grounds, Agricultural Land Preservation, Sisters of St. Joseph, Brentwood, NY


  • WI – Trudi, Steve?



Global Efforts to consider participating in:


  • Lenten Fast for Climate Justice.
  • Mercy2Earth on Earth Day and Mercy Sunday – program and videos to reflect on Pope Francis’ recent message “Show Mercy to our Common Home”. Learn more at
  • Global Divestment Mobilization (May 3-13) organized by our friends of the divestment movement, we will facilitate the 3rd Joint Catholic Divestment Announcement on May 5
  • Laudato Si’ Anniversary Celebrations
  • World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation (September 1), GCCM will be joining Christian churches and faith communities around the globe in praying,  celebrating, and taking action for creation. Learn more in the ecumenical website

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