Other Group

Center for Earth Ethics






Religious Environmental Advocacy Group



Executive Director:

Karenna Gore

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The Center for Earth Ethics is a program of the Union Theological Seminary devoted to promoting left-of-center environmentalism through religious leaders and communities. The Center was founded and is run by Karenna Gore, daughter of environmentalist activist and former Vice President Al Gore.


The Center for Earth Ethics was founded in 2014 during Religions for Earth, an environmentalist conference of over 200 religious leaders convened during Climate Week. 1 Union Theological Seminary president Serene Jones announced the launch of the Center as a means of combating, “human greed, and gross and violent power inequities” at the root of climate change. 2


The Center for Earth Ethics laid out its beliefs in its “Declaration for an Awakened Kinship with the Earth.” The Declaration states it “will call on the world’s political leaders to put aside their differences and forge a meaningful international treaty to restrict carbon emissions,” and that “whenever individuals or governments or corporations become destructive of these ends, and place private needs over the good of the planet, we support the right of the people to ask that they forfeit their power.” Also, it affirms that “we will together form a beloved Earth community and civilization, inspired by the movements to end racism, apartheid, fascism and other forms of mental and physical violence.” 3

The Center defines “earth ethics” as “the discernment of how to live in relationship with the living planet,” and sets out four principles: that “those who are least responsible for pollution and depletion of the natural world are the most harmed by them,” that moral concern should be extended to future generations, that non-human life deserves moral concern, and that the planet is a “living whole.” 4

The Center asserts that low-income and racial minority individuals are harmed the most by climate change and pollution. 5

The Center asserts that indigenous communities support better environmental policies than current governments. In an interview, executive director Karenna Gore said, “With climate change and interfaith dialogue, [indigenous traditions] are absolutely the most important tradition to elevate and to honor and to learn from, because it is so deeply ingrained that there is reciprocity with earth, with Mother Earth, that this is a living being, that this is not an object. Even our language is always objectifying. That is completely subverted talking to traditional indigenous leaders.” 6

The Center supports divestment from conventional energy companies. 7


The Center for Earth Ethics runs the Food + Faith Coalition, an initiative that brings organizations together to discuss recommendations for the United Nations Food Systems Summit. 8

In June 2023, the Center offered Climate Justice Training for religious leaders in New York City. 9

In December 2022, the Center attended COP15 and co-hosted a talk with the United Religions Initiative on the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. 10

In July 2021, the United Nations Environmental Programme granted accreditation to the Center for Earth Ethics, giving the Center observer status. 11

In 2019, the Center became an affiliate of the Columbia University Earth Institute. 12

The Center supports Indigenous communities through a variety of programs on the supposition that Indigenous people have better environmental policies. The Center has encouraged the official Papal revocation of the “Doctrine of Discovery,” a policy dating back to the 15th century permitting Catholics to dominate nature and indigenous peoples. 13


Karenna Gore is the founder and executive director of the Center for Earth Ethics. Gore is the daughter of former Vice President Al Gore. She was formerly the director of the Union Forum at the Union Theological Seminary. She sits on the boards of the Association to Benefit Children, Pando Populus, the Sweetwater Cultural Center, and Riverkeeper. 14

Roberto Mukaro Borrero is a strategic advisor to the Center. He is the chief of the Guainía Taíno Tribe and president of the United Confederation of Taíno People. Borrero is a long-time advisor to the United Nations, including UNESCO, the United Nations Development Programme, and the U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. 15

The Center’s advisory board members include employees from BlocPower, Green the Church, the International Public Policy Institute, the International Council on Environmental Economics and Development, and the National Wildlife Federation. 16


  1. “Religions for the Earth.” Center for Earth Ethics. Accessed September 26, 2023. https://centerforearthethics.org/religions-for-the-earth/.
  2. “Announcing the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary.” Union News. Accessed September 26, 2023. https://utsnyc.edu/announcing-the-center-for-earth-ethics-at-union-theological-seminary/.
  3. “Declaration for an Awakened Kinship with the Earth.” Center for Earth Ethics. Accessed September 26, 2023. https://centerforearthethics.org/declaration-for-an-awakened-kinship-with-the-earth/.
  4. “What is Earth Ethics?” Center for Earth Ethics. Accessed September 26, 2023. https://centerforearthethics.org/what-are-earth-ethics-tk/.
  5. “Environmental Justice & Civic Engagement.” Center for Earth Ethics. Accessed September 26, 2023. https://centerforearthethics.org/environmental-justice-civic-engagement/.
  6. “Karenna Gore on Faith Communities and the Environment.” Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. October 7, 2015. Accessed September 26, 2023. https://www.carnegiecouncil.org/media/series/gt/20151001-karenna-gore-on-faith-communities-and-the-environment.
  7. “World Bank’s Evolution Roadmap Fails to Include Biggest Transformation of All: Ending Financing of Fossil Fuels.” Center for Earth Ethics. April 12, 2023. Accessed September 26, 2023. https://centerforearthethics.org/blog/world-bank-proposes-roadmap-to-address-development/.
  8. “Food + Faith Coalition.” Center for Earth Ethics. Accessed September 26, 2023. https://centerforearthethics.org/our-work/faith-food-coalition/.
  9. “Climate Justice Training.” Center for Earth Ethics. Accessed September 26, 2023. https://centerforearthethics.org/our-work/climate-training/.
  10. “UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.” Center for Earth Ethics. Accessed September 26, 2023. https://centerforearthethics.org/our-work/ecosystems/.
  11. “UN Environmental Programme Grants Accreditation to CEE and Union.” Center for Earth Ethics. July 9, 2021. Accessed September 26, 2023. https://centerforearthethics.org/blog/un-environment-programme-grants-accreditation-to-cee-and-union/.
  12. “Center for Earth Affiliates with Columbia Earth Institute.” Center for Earth Ethics. Accessed September 26, 2023. https://centerforearthethics.org/blog/center-for-earth-ethics-affiliates-with-columbia-earth-institute/.
  13. “Doctrine of Discovery.” Center for Earth Ethics. Accessed September 26, 2023. https://centerforearthethics.org/our-work/doctrine-of-discovery/.
  14. “Karenna Gore.” Center for Earth Ethics. Accessed September 26, 2023. https://centerforearthethics.org/profile/karenna-gore/.
  15. “Roberto Mukaro Borrero.” Center for Earth Ethics. Accessed September 26, 2023. https://centerforearthethics.org/profile/roberto-mukaro-borrero/.
  16. “Advisory Board.” Center for Earth Ethics. Accessed September 26, 2023. https://centerforearthethics.org/about-us-3/advisory-board/.
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Center for Earth Ethics

3041 BROADWAY at 121st St
NEW YORK, NY 10027-5701