Tell Congress to prioritize climate action and environmental justice

Over the past four years, the U.S. has abdicated its responsibility to cut carbon emissions and withdrawn from global efforts to address climate change. The U.S. 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. 

Urge your members of Congress to support legislation that puts the U.S. on the path to net-zero carbon emissions, restores American leadership on climate action, safeguards the natural world, advances environmental justice, and facilitates a just transition away from fossil fuels.

Background

The past six years have been the six hottest years on record, and 2020 was tied for the world’s warmest-ever year. Global temperatures climbed to 1.25 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels—dangerously close to the maximum threshold of 1.5 degrees needed to avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change, as described in the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Under the previous administration, federal agencies and administration officials focused on reversing nearly 100 environmental rules and withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, which diminished global cooperation on climate change. These actions not only thwart progress to reduce emissions and address climate change—they also threaten public health and weaken protections for U.S. lands, waters, and biodiversity. Meanwhile, Congress has failed to pass legislation that puts the U.S. on the path to net-zero carbon emissions, supports frontline communities who bear the brunt of the burden of environmental harms, or enables a just transition to a clean energy economy. From sea level rise to devastating wildfires to record high global temperatures, the consequences of that inaction are abundantly clear.

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 is only a first step—we must lead by example and increase the ambition of our Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement. The U.S. must also fulfill our financial commitments to the Green Climate Fund, which helps developing countries adapt to the effects of climate change and meet sustainable development goals.

To align with the global goal of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, Congress must pass policies that immediately put the U.S. on track to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, if not sooner. These efforts must include unprecedented investments in renewable energy, policies that account for the true social cost of carbon, updated energy efficiency standards, and other measures to cut emissions across every sector of the economy. Our shift to a clean energy economy must be a just transition, which ensures that Communities of Color and low-income communities are provided with economic opportunities and do not bear the brunt of the burden of climate action.

Congress must also address the effects of environmental degradation within the U.S. and bring racial equity to the forefront of environmental policy. At the expense of public health, the previous administration eliminated or weakened numerous regulations that limit air and water pollution. These rollbacks reinforce systemic racism and exacerbate longstanding environmental injustices, which put Communities of Color at higher risk of environmental harm. Congress must pass legislation that advances environmental justice, protects frontline communities from the disproportionate burdens of pollution and climate change, and gives all communities a voice in environmental decision-making. Congress must also strengthen protections for federal lands and waters, which include many places that are sacred to Indigenous people, and safeguard our nation’s biodiversity.

Urge your members of Congress to reverse the damage of the previous administration’s environmental agenda and pass recovery 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 Creation 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 global warming. We must act with urgency to ensure a livable world for future generations, and to protect frontline 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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