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Faith leaders call for climate policy to help people in poverty

Washington D.C., June 7, 2007 Ė Testifying before the Environment and Public Works Senate Committee today, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, joined with other major faith leaders representing Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish organizations to call for the U.S. Congress to alleviate the burden on people in poverty by reducing U.S. carbon emissions through mandatory climate policy.

The testimony of the Most Reverend Jefferts Schori, a trained oceanographer who testified on behalf of the National Council of Churches USA (NCC), comes on the heels of a global warming resolution passed by the NCC's General Assembly in November 2006 and a Standing Conference of the Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas statement issued at their May 23, 2007, session held at St. Vladimir's Seminary in Crestwood, NY.

"As a priest, trained as a scientist, I take as a sacred obligation the faith community's responsibility to stand on the side of truth--whether that be the truth of science or the truth of God's unquenchable love for God's children," said Bishop Jefferts Schori. "Science has revealed that global warming is real, caused by human activities and is a threat not only to God's good creation but to all of humanity."

Jefferts Schori highlighted that global warming will have a negative impact on all of God's creation including those living in poverty, communities of color, and vulnerable communities in the U.S. and abroad. Jefferts Schori stated that "inaction now is the most costly course of action for those living in poverty" and noted that climate change legislation now will help protect those who would suffer most from global warming.

Testimony submitted during the hearing included a Statement of Principles on Global Warming [see below] signed by 17 religious organizations representing more than 46 million people of faith and numerous religious resolutions calling on the U.S. Congress to act immediately to address global warming. Other panelists included Rev. Jim Ball, Evangelical Environmental Network, John Carr, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Rabbi David Saperstein, Union of Reformed Judaism

NCC Eco-Justice contact: Cassandra Carmichael, 202-481-6928,

Episcopal Church contact: Neva Rae Fox, 212.716.6080, C: 917-478-5659;

NCC News contact:  Dan Webster, 212.870.2252,


► Justice: Strive for justice and acknowledge that global warmingís societal impact already falls, and will continue to fall, most heavily on the people around the world who are least able to mitigate the impactsópoor and vulnerable populations in the U.S. and in developing countries. As a leading industrialized nation that has disproportionately contributed to greenhouse gas emissions, it is incumbent upon us to rectify this injustice. To reach our goal of justice, we require that legislation:

● Include mechanisms that mitigate the impacts of global warming particularly for vulnerable populations in the U.S. and abroad.

● Prevent further harm to human health and all of Godís creation by utilizing clean energy sources when addressing global warming and carbon pollution. 

● Focus on a fair and equitable distribution of total benefits and costs among people, communities, and nations, and in particular rectify the disproportionate impact that low-income communities have and will experience as the climate continues to change.

● Enable our brothers and sisters now living in poverty to have both economic independence and stability and to eliminate the devastating impacts that global warming has and will continue to have on those people in the U.S. and around the world living in poverty.

● Take action now to avoid placing the burden of carbon reduction unduly on our childrenís children.

● Endorse policies that place a high priority on allowing all people to live in Godís abundance and with dignity by ensuring that basic human needs and worker justice are not adversely impacted by the effects of global warming or future efforts to address global warming.

► Stewardship: Heed the call to be faithful stewards and caretakers of Godís creation by limiting the future impacts of global warming on Godís Earth. Already, global warming has damaged the precious balance of Godís creation, including increasing the number of threatened species, causing long-term drought, and melting Arctic ice. To reach our goal of stewardship, we require that legislation:

● Follow recognized scientific guidelines and recommendations in order to protect all of Godís creation and prevent catastrophic damage to Godís Earth and Godís people. Following their recommendations, legislation must include comprehensive, mandatory, and aggressive emission reductions that aim to limit the increase in Earthís temperature to 2 degrees Celsius or less. Legislation should focus on the short term goal of reducing U.S. carbon emissions to reach a 15-20 percent reduction in carbon by 2020 with a long term vision to achieve carbon emissions that are 80 percent of 2000 levels by the year 2050.

● Avoid catastrophic global warming, which would devastate Godís creation, put more pressure on disaster and relief responses, and endanger the future of the planet. Although global warming impacts are already being felt, we must ensure that Godís people and planet are protected from the catastrophic effects that may occur if we fail to significantly curb our carbon emissions.

● Call on major emitters to take responsibility for their actions and work to significantly reduce their carbon emissions.

► Sustainability: Ensure that efforts to curb global warming prevent further environmental and societal tragedies. As people of faith we are guided by the value of sustainability. Sustainability requires that we enable biological and social systems that nurture and support life not be depleted or poisoned. To reach our goal of sustainability, we require that legislation:

● Maintain Godís good creation by preventing policies that place the burden of our lifestyles on one aspect of creation and encouraging policies that sustain and restore vibrant eco-systems with economic justice so that communities of life can flourish for generations to come.

● Respond to global warming in a way that reflects the interdependence of all of Godís creation.

● Support energy sources that are renewable, clean, and avoid destruction of Godís creation.

► Sufficiency: In a world of finite resources, for all to have enough requires that those among us who have more than enough will need to address our patterns of acquisition and consumption. We can not achieve significant reductions in global warming emissions unless we make changes in our lifestyles and particularly in our energy consumption. To support the goal of sufficiency, legislation must:

● Encourage energy conservation in our homes, our communities, and our places of worship.

● Encourage energy conservation in national transportation and distribution systems and commercial enterprises.

● Encourage the federal government to lead through research and example in the practice and implementation of energy conservation.

Endorsed by:

Columban Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation Office (USA), The Episcopal Church Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Friends Committee on National Legislation, General Board of Church in Society, United Methodist Church, National Council of Churches USA, National Ministries, American Baptist Churches USA, Presbyterian Church (USA) Washington Office, Union of Reform Judaism, United Church of Christ, Peace and Justice Ministries

NCC News contact:  Dan Webster, 212.870.2252,


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