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January 15, 2002, NEW YORK CITY - U.S. faith community work to protect the environment has a new component - a Web-based electronic advocacy network.

The new Interfaith Climate Change Network -  - offers religious people of all faith communities an extensive stock of information and practical, specific actions for stewardship of creation, a concept included in many theologies.

Along with energy conservation measures for households, congregations and communities, the Interfaith Climate Change Network facilitates advocacy for such energy-smart public policies as support for mass transit, stricter vehicle emissions standards and development of clean and renewable energy.

The Interfaith Climate Change Network is co-sponsored by the National Council of Churches' Eco-Justice Working Group (NCC) and the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), both New York City-based.

In 1995, the 2,500 scientists of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) officially confirmed that human activity is contributing to rapid climate change. In 2001, the IPCC reported that there is now convincing evidence linking human activity to higher land and ocean temperatures, rising sea levels, and thinning of snow and ice cover. The National Academy of Sciences also has concluded that "global warming is undoubtedly real" and requires policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

To stabilize atmospheric CO2, the IPCC determined that global emissions must be reduced below 1990 levels by at least 60 percent. Since 1990, they have increased about 15 percent.

People of faith bring a particular perspective to work to protect the environment, said the Rev. Richard L. Killmer, the NCC's director of environmental justice.

"Psalm 24 tells us, 'the Earth is the Lord's and all that is in it,'" he said. "We do not own it, but are to care for it as a sacred trust. Furthermore, as God's people, we are 'our brothers' and sisters' keepers and are to attend to the well-being of our neighbors and of future generations."

"All of creation is threatened by climate change," Killmer continued. "Global warming hurts God's creation and God's people. Poor people in developing nations are most severely impacted by changing weather and rising seas and have the least capacity to adapt. Unless global warming is reversed, future generations will inherit an unstable climate, potentially catastrophic rises in sea level, migration of tropical diseases and disrupted agricultural production."

Members of the Interfaith Climate Change Network are encouraged to take responsibility for dealing with global warming in their own choices and actions before expecting or demanding this of others.

"Because we of the industrialized nations created the increase of greenhouse gases, we have a special responsibility to do something about it," Killmer said. "We can reduce our use of energy and of things we don't really need that require energy to make and use. We can help people in need improve their quality of life without using more energy from damaging sources. And we can inform ourselves about public policy relating to global warming at all levels - local, regional, national and international."

About the Interfaith Climate Change Network's co-sponsors:

The Eco-Justice Working Group of the National Council of Churches is made up of representatives from 23 national communions (denominations) that work together on environmental issues.

The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life is a broad coalition of 29 national Jewish organizations representing the broad spectrum of Jewish life. COEJL has 13 regional affiliates across North America working in Jewish communities to organize environmental education, action and advocacy.

Together, NCC and COEJL have organized 21 statewide interfaith climate change campaigns, which provide an opportunity for individuals and congregations to get involved in educating and organizing their communities.

COEJL and the NCC are partners in the interfaith National Religious Partnership for the Environment, which also includes the U.S. Catholic Conference and the Evangelical Environmental Network.


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