Fighting global warming: a spiritual view

Concern over global warming is uniting the world’s religions in a way rarely seen in history.  Faith leaders recognize that rising temperatures endanger the life support systems for all creation and put at risk the most vulnerable among us. People of faith are charged with caring for all God’s creation and caring for the poor.  We know that poor and vulnerable communities are least able to adapt to the consequences of global warming. In response to this crisis, faith-based organizations like mine, California Interfaith Power and Light (CIPL), represent people of all faiths working together and calling for immediate effective action.  

In 2006, CIPL joined environmental advocates to urge passage of The Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), our nation’s first cap on global warming pollution. It mandates that by 2020, California will reduce emissions by more than 25 percent.  Next week, the California Air Resources Board will release its first draft of a plan to get us there. Over the summer, they will hold workshops across the state.

One important concern is how this plan will affect our poorest and most vulnerable citizens. Historically inequitable treatment of these communities – which bear the brunt of environmental pollution – has led to skepticism about government’s goals.  We are working for the involvement of those communities most affected by cost and environmental consequences.  CIPL advocates that the plan require that polluters pay, and revenue is used to speed the transition to a clean energy future, as well as to assist low-income communities with energy costs, investment in energy efficiency, and green jobs skills training.

If done right, a clean energy economy will save consumers money, generate green jobs and improve the air quality of the very neighborhoods that need it most.  To get there, we must all work together to ensure the success of this plan for the sake of the poorest communities.

The world’s leading scientists say that by 2050 we need to cut emissions by 85 percent if we are to avert catastrophic climate change. Hurricane Katrina portends the future if we, as a people, do not act together to meet this goal.  In New Orleans, the wealthy have moved on.  But for the poorer citizens a degraded environment, increased costs and lack of employment has been a second disaster. Next week, California will take the first step toward creating a safer, healthier, more just future. The State’s success is in everyone’s best interest.

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