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What is the “NetZero 2050” UMC initiative?

This may not be a familiar phrase, but you should expect to hear more about it over the months to come. There is a swelling conviction around the world that all nations and communities must act in concert to limit the adverse impact of climate change (Net Zero - United Nations). “NetZero 2050” is a global movement to reduce net carbon emissions to zero by year 2050, meaning whatever lingering carbon emissions exist in 2050 are offset by equivalent carbon capture. “Carbon Capture” refers to taking potent carbon greenhouse gases, like methane and carbon dioxide, out of the atmosphere. This can be done by planting trees, nourishing ocean reefs, or diverting industrial exhaust gases to underground storage.

The U.S. Government has made such a commitment and is now joined by 18 national governments with a goal of attaining net-zero government emissions by 2050 (Net Zero US Government Initiative). Through this Initiative, national governments will work together to steadily curb emissions in ways that meet the urgency of the climate crisis.

The UMC General Board of Global Ministries together with the Northern Illinois Conference (NIC Eco-Sustainability Task Force) have also committed to a NetZero effort at a Summit in the Fall of 2022. A subsequent NIC initiative was launched in January 2023 to establish a NIC NetZero Task Force to lead, enable, and facilitate progress toward a NetZero 2050 goal.

Churches from across the NIC are represented on the team, totaling together about thirty clergy and lay members. The kick-off meeting in January resulted in identifying five key Task Force teams to implement NetZero emissions actions by 2026:

  • Sharing Motivational Communications

  • Executing Specific Actions

  • Including Nature in Worship (Creation Care)

  • Creating Educational Resources

  • Promoting Conference Level Activities

Grace UMC has two members participating with the Task Force representing Grace’s Church & Society Committee, John Bodine and Jean Ives, both on the “Including Nature in Worship” team. They will continue participation through the year, meeting quarterly with the task force for NIC level efforts, and working to guide Grace Members and Grace Church in defining NetZero action steps at the local level.

Developments will be communicated in Grace Notes and through the Church & Society Committee as we progress through the year. This will be a transformative effort, requiring learning, adaptation, and a collective spirit of belief that we can make a difference in the climate challenge that is before us.

John Bodine & Jean Ives

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