MWC contributing carbon tax to global projects

MWC contributing carbon tax to global projects

In recognition of the environmental impact of their global work, Mennonite World Conference staff and executive committee members are now imposing a simple surcharge on themselves for each mile that they travel by air.

The plan, approved in August by the MWC Executive Committee, went into effect October 14 when MWC administrator Karen Martin Schiedel sent all staff and executive committee members a form to fill out for each trip, tracking the miles they travel.

The proceeds of the tax will go to the MWC’s Global Church Sharing Fund, says MWC Deacons Commission secretary Bert Lobe, who developed the plan from earlier proposals and worked with Martin Schiedel and MWC development consultant Henry Hildebrand to move it to reality.

“This action acknowledges our commitment to be good stewards of the gifts we receive and use in the interests of the MWC mission,” said Lobe. He said that the fund proceeds will be earmarked specifically for environmentally green projects of MWC-member churches.

Based on a formula of $50 per 1000 kilograms (2200 pounds) of carbon—the plan is expected next year to generate $2500 of income toward the Sharing Fund. By this calculation, a flight from Frankfurt to New York would consume 684 kilograms (1505 pounds) of carbon, and thus contribute $ 34 to the fund. According to research presented to the Executive Committee, the average trip by air to an MWC assembly burns 1.26 metric tons (2772 pounds) of carbon.

“The key is that we’re walking the talk,” said Hildebrand. “We felt that what we’re doing here gets us started. If we need to change something, it’s easily done.”

In coming years, for example, if the tax is applied to all delegate travel for the General Council meetings of 2012 or the MWC assembly in 2015, the MWC could consider partnering with another organization for a major project, rather than supporting the smaller projects of Sharing Fund.

The MWC formula is based on part of a plan that the Canadian Food Grains Bank (CFGB) has considered for its global operation. It also draws inspiration from plans considered by Mennonite Central Committee and Mennonite Economic Development Associates.

Byron Rempel-Burkholder
MWC editor

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