The Clear Case for Supporting the Clean Power Plan
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The need for climate action is an urgent imperative, and a moral obligation for all people of faith. Why? Because climate action is about defending human life. That’s the key message in Pope Francis’ Encyclical, LAUDATO SI’, issued recently. The Encyclical from one of Christianity’s most popular and influential leaders provides a capstone and unifying moment for all Christians.
Pope Francis is not alone in understanding humanity’s perils from climate change. He stands in solidarity with over 300 evangelicals, like Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, and us who signed the Evangelical Climate Initiative in 2006 and other Christian leaders who understand climate change as a humanitarian cause, and its biblical importance to all Christian traditions. For Christians with eyes to see and ears to listen, they know the suffering is already harming our kids and God’s children around the world.
While a shrinking few still try to deny the scientific reality of climate change, Americans and people overseas daily face the impacts of our warming world. And the most tragically harmed now are the world’s poorest populations who have contributed the least to greenhouse gas pollution. We need to care for the least of these, who the Bible commands us to care about most.
Every child, born and yet-to-be born, deserves the promise and holy covenant of clean air and a healthy climate. Yet, one in three children in America has autism, ADHD, asthma, or allergies all directly linked to fossil fuels and petrochemicals. Pollution from dirty vehicles and power generation is literally taking their breath away, and action is needed to help protect our kids and other susceptible populations, like the elderly. Over 277,000 of Pennsylvania’s kids suffer from asthma and a warming world makes their lives much worse.
We need hope for a better world, and our goal is to make hope happen. The clean energy transition is now unstoppable according to the most respected business voices in the world. We will replace dirty fuels with clean energy that will rekindle our economy and be the greatest wealth generator in history. Clean energy will help purify our air and water, replace energy poverty with prosperity, help billions to read as they gain access to light, and generate the greatest opportunity for sustainable life.
The developing world is deploying renewables over old-fashioned fossil-fuel power. Solar installations are doubling every two years, with developing countries installing renewable energy projects at nearly double the rate of developed nations. In fact, global emissions of carbon dioxide flat-lined in 2014, while the global economy grew that same year. It was the first time in 40 years that we experienced a halt or reduction in carbon dioxide emissions without an economic downturn, according to the International Energy Agency.
However we need more than a clean energy transition; we need a clean energy revolution. Our revolution means removing the roadblocks that empower individuals to have energy freedom and choose who and how they purchase energy. We must invest in new technologies that yield higher energy efficiencies, and unleash the power of American innovation. Lastly, we must establish public policies that correct failures in our markets.
Around the world, governments subsidize fossil fuels to the amount of $550 billion a year in direct subsidizes, tax breaks, and unrealized health costs. (The same governments including the US provide $100 billion in renewable subsidies.) While we can’t force all governments to make changes, we (the US) can lead.
Our first step must be to support the soon to be finalized EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). The CPP starts to assist in correcting our markets by limiting carbon pollution. This action slows warming and will protect today’s public and future generations from the health dangers of burning dirty fossil fuels, while helping America steer clear of a dangerously warming future filled with food and water shortages as well as growing threats to our homes, economy and infrastructure.
Let’s make hope happen by transforming the clean energy transition into a revolution. It’s time for people of all faiths to demand the smart, ethical and affordable policies for a new energy economy that defends our kids today and provides for their tomorrow. Our children’s health and life have always been a priority for Florida. Let’s keep it that by asking our public leaders to defend our kids, come up with solutions that work, and provide for their future by working for a clean energy future. Caring for God’s creation is a matter of life and an act in following Christ.
The Rev. Dr. Marrero is VP of National Programs, Esperanza, Philadelphia, PA and The Rev. Hescox is President of The Evangelical Environmental Network, New Freedom, PA.