God created the earth and declared it “good.” As people of faith— called to protect the vulnerable and to the care and keeping of God’s earth—we are gravely concerned that the impacts of climate change have and will dramatically and negatively alter our earth’s natural balance. Because the effects of global climate change are already impacting those least able to cope with them, addressing global climate change is also a justice issue.
Reduce Climate Change Emissions:
- Enact a mandatory system that lowers greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. to meet standards recommended by the international scientific community for ensuring the earth’s temperature does not increase by more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees F) above pre-industrial levels. Many scientists believe an increase in 2 degrees C. will bring about a “tipping point” that will cause irreversible and catastrophic damage to the earth’s climate.
- We applaud the president’s commitment to climate change mitigation as shown in his budget proposal, the assumed 100 per cent auction of carbon credits, and the investments in developing a renewable energy economy.
- To achieve this, the U.S. must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25-40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and work for long-term reductions that are at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The short-term carbon cap proposed in the president’s budget – 14% emissions reductions below 2005 levels by 2020 – is inadequate to avert the most catastrophic effects of climate change.
- Voluntary measures have been shown to be ineffective – there must be a regulatory incentive for carbon emitters to comply with reduction targets.
- Mechanisms developed for achieving these reductions must be clearly based on principles of transparency, accountability, global equity and environmental effectiveness.
Support Vulnerable Communities: International Adaptation:
- Provide international adaptation assistance to vulnerable communities in the Global South that are struggling to adapt their lives and livelihoods to respond to shifts in weather patterns and the natural environment.
- We are concerned about a lack of clear commitment in the president’s budget for international adaptation funding.
- Climate change is already disproportionately affecting poor countries, and will continue to do so – the countries that contribute least to the causes of global warming and have the least resources to protect their vulnerable populations.
- The UN Human Development Report estimates that at least $86 billion per year will be needed by 2015, including money to “climate-proof” development investments, build resiliency of affected communities and respond to climate-related disasters.
- Adaptation funding should take the form of grants, not loans, and be delivered through mechanisms that are transparent, participatory and accountable to those most impacted, including women and indigenous communities.
- The Adaptation Fund under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) provides a positive step in this direction, However, given the World Bank’s carbon-intensive investment portfolio, poor record on environmental and social concerns, and undemocratic and nontransparent structure, it does not seem that the World Bank’s Climate Investment Funds would be an appropriate vehicle for international climate funding.
- Because of the massive U.S. contribution to greenhouse emissions, money for adaptation and transition is a moral responsibility, must not be considered as charity, and must be new and in addition to U.S. commitments to foreign aid
Assist and Welcome Climate Migrants:
- Provide generous humanitarian assistance to people fleeing effects of climate change.
- Admit a significant number of environmental migrants through a new entry mechanism similar to the special immigrant visa process.
- Between 2007 and 2008 alone, more than 400 natural disasters resulted in over 16,000 persons dead and 234 million displaced from their homes. It is estimated that by 2050 over 200 million people will have been displaced due to the effects of climate change.
- Individuals forcibly displaced by natural disasters have little to no access to international protection and humanitarian assistance, and absolutely no access to refugee resettlement in the U.S., since international law does not regard them as refugees.