Tell Congress to prioritize climate action and environmental justice

In recent years, the U.S. federal government has largely abdicated its responsibility to cut carbon emissions and withdrawn from global efforts to address climate change. Congress must take immediate steps to combat climate change, conserve nature, and address the disproportionate effects of environmental harm on Communities of Color and low-income communities. Investments in clean energy, green job creation, and environmental justice should be central to our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Tell Congress to prioritize and invest in renewable energy, create a net-zero economy and infrastructure, restore American leadership on climate action, and advance environmental justice and just transition.

Background

In February 2022, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres called a newly-released IPCC report "an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership." The report reaffirmed that climate change is human-caused and the situation is dire. The world is dangerously close to the reaching maximum threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels needed to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change. The report concluded that there is still time to avert the worst effects, but humanity must act quickly. 

As one of the world’s top carbon emitters, the U.S. must accept its fair share of responsibility and resume global leadership on climate action. Rejoining the Paris Agreement, passing the American Rescue Plan and infrastructure bill, and executive orders on climate change amelioration were good first steps. However, more must be done to prevent and mitigate against the worst impacts of the climate crisis. The U.S. must lead by example and increase the ambition of our Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement, dramatically increase investments to allow for significant and sustained reductions in greenhouse emissions, and quickly transition our own economy and infrastructure to be zero-emission and center environmental justice.

Despite multiple opportunities, the Senate has failed to pass comprehensive climate change legislation that puts the U.S. on the path to net-zero carbon emissions, support frontline communities who bear the brunt of the burden of environmental harms compounded by climate change, or enable a just transition to a clean energy economy. From sea level rise to devastating wildfires, hurricanes, and superstorms, to record high global temperatures, the consequences of that inaction are abundantly clear. Further, it is critical that the transition to a green economy is fair and maximizes opportunities for workers from communities that have been harmed by environmental racism and workers in historically fossil fuel-dependent communities.

To align with the global goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, Congress must pass a reconciliation bill, which secures over $550 billion for comprehensive climate change redress, makes unprecedented investments in a zero-emission economy and renewable energy sources, advances environmental justice and just transition initiatives, and ensures U.S. leadership on climate change.

Urge your members of Congress to pass legislation rooted in our commitment to climate justice, public health, racial equity, and preservation of the natural world.

Jewish Values

Our tradition teaches that we have a responsibility to look after the world and preserve the planet for future generations: “Take care not to spoil or destroy My world, for if you do, there will be no one to repair it after you” (Midrash Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:13). There is a narrow and ever-shrinking window of opportunity to prevent the most catastrophic consequences of climate change. We must act with urgency to ensure a livable world for future generations, and to protect vulnerable domestic and international communities who already face disproportionate burdens of climate change and other forms of environmental harm.

For More Information

For more information on this issue, visit the RAC’s issue page on the environment and climate change or contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Shayna Han at 202-387-2800.

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