A morally acceptable solution to climate change
Leaders of many faith communities are joining the discussion about the best solutions to climate change. Jesse Dye of Earth Ministry in Seattle argues that a cap-and-trade approach is a morally acceptable solution.
Special to The Times
WHY are so many faith leaders from all around the world weighing in on climate change?
Not a Catholic feast day goes by that Pope Benedict does not call for the faithful to reduce overconsumption and protect Earth's poorest people from drought and despair.
And he's not alone. Groups from the Association of Reformed Judaism to the Evangelical Climate Initiative and well beyond are talking about climate change because it has become the great moral challenge of our time. The Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury recently preached that respect for the environment is not an optional extra. "We are capable of changing our situation" he says, "in Christian terms, this needs a radical change of heart, a conversion."
In the Northwest, the slow waning of Cascade mountain snow packs, regional flooding and extinction of salmon make climate change important to local religious leaders as well.
Recently, Earth Ministry convened a group of eight constituents from six different denominations to meet with U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, who represents the 8th Congressional District, on the subject of climate legislation. Our goal was to express support for the Waxman-Markey "American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009" — a cap-and-trade bill — currently in Congress.
A co-sponsor of the 2007 Climate Stewardship Act, Reichert has demonstrated his support for bold climate policy. Recently, he declined to sign a letter to President Obama indicating Republican opposition to implementing a cap on carbon.
We applaud his willingness to rise above the partisan divide to recognize the importance of creating a clearer, healthier future through ending our dependence on fossil fuel; but, we hope Reichert and all our Washington state elected officials will support this important climate legislation.
A well-designed, market-based cap-and-trade system that establishes goals for stepping down overall carbon pollution is a morally acceptable response to the challenge of climate change. What is untenable is for our political leaders to do nothing.
The American Clean Energy and Security Act is our best hope to institute a cap on carbon and make real progress this year. The bill isn't perfect — the faith community is working to ensure that carbon credits are auctioned instead of given away, and we want to reduce the amount of carbon offsets permitted. However, the bill includes the key ingredients necessary for a transition to a clean energy future: energy efficiency, renewable energy, an improved energy grid and, most important, a cap on greenhouse-gas emissions.
God's creation needs a change of course now, and it is imperative that we pass strong climate legislation this year. The American Clean Energy and Security Act will lay the foundation for the U.S. to take a leadership role in putting the world on a path to solving global warming. The religious community in Washington calls on our elected leaders to support this important bill.
Jessie Dye is program and outreach director for Earth Ministry/Washington Interfaith Power & Light. For more information, see www.earthministry.org.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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