Solving the Climate Crisis: Policies for a Green Recovery
EPPN Creation Care Series 2021 Part 5
**After reading, don’t forget to use the Take Action link below to urge your Members of Congress to enact ambitious infrastructure and energy legislation!**
“From the primal elements you brought forth the human race, and blessed us with memory, reason, and skill. You made us the rulers of creation. But we turned against you, and betrayed your trust; and we turned against one another. Again and again, you called us to return. Through prophets and sages you revealed your righteous Law.” Book of Common Prayer Eucharist Prayer C
Have you ever felt solastalgia? Coined by philosopher Glenn Albrecht, it describes the emotional feeling of distress associated with environmental change in your “home.” It is a sense of homesickness experienced while at home, a sense of grief resulting from changes in biodiversity, loss of terrain, or the inability to carry on traditions connected to the natural world. It’s mourning the loss of a childhood park, trees being cut down for a new building, and losses caused by fires or floods.
Even the term environmental recovery implies a disconnection between our fragile island home and our human experience in it. Addressing climate change requires solution-based legislation aimed not only at protecting the most vulnerable but re-aligning us back to God’s creation. As Presiding Bishop Curry shared during his sermon at Ecumenical Advocacy Days this year, John 3:16 reminds us, “For God so loved the world,” meaning the earth and all the things that inhabit it. As followers of Jesus, we are called to love as God loves. The work of climate justice isn’t just a secular endeavor but the sacred work of God.
One Solution: Address Climate Change through Infrastructure Legislation
Updating infrastructure in the United States using sustainable planning would support the development of healthy, resilient communities. As discussed in previous newsletters, extreme weather events such as wildfires, hurricanes, and floods have already cost the United States more than $450 billion in damages. Looking ahead, green infrastructure such as retrofitting buildings with energy-efficient codes, creating “green” garden rooftops or solar arrays, and upgrading energy infrastructure to support greater electrification and renewable integration can reduce damages from changing climate conditions and lower greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to the global temperature rise.
In March, the Biden administration released an infrastructure plan and urged Congress to take it up as legislation. To protect the most vulnerable, 40% of climate justice funding is designated for low-income communities, particularly those negatively affected by environmental disasters. Some other key highlights from Biden’s American Jobs Plan include:
- $621 billion on public transit to improve air quality and limit greenhouse gas emissions.
- Improve electric fleet market by offering consumers rebates or tax incentives and establishing grant programs to build a national network of 500,000 charging stations.
- $213 billion toward building affordable and energy-efficient housing units.
- $111 billion to rebuild the country’s water infrastructure and reduce lead exposure in 400,000 schools and childcare facilities.
International Green Recovery
Many of the poorest countries in the world, who bear the least responsibility for climate change, face enormous climate threats and lack the assets to prepare for them. Recognizing this inequity and the high cost of disaster response compared to preventative measures, member-states to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change established the Green Climate Fund (GCF). This fund helps limit greenhouse gas emissions and invest in climate resiliency in developing countries, with 50% of financial resources devoted to mitigation work and the other 50% devoted to adaptation.
The Episcopal Church partnered with a broad faith coalition to secure initial funding for the GCF from the United States after the Paris Agreement was signed. We continue to support efforts to fully fund the GCF, including President Biden’s budget request to contribute $1.2 billion to the GCF in FY2022, recognizing it as a key mechanism to secure global carbon reduction targets and ensure a just transition for all.
Last week, the Biden Administration released their updated Paris Agreement pledge, known as a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 50-52% from 2005 levels by 2030. Accomplishing this ambitious target will require substantial shifts in U.S. policy and investment, but can be paired with a green recovery that creates millions of jobs, ensures economic security, and improves the health of low-income communities. The NDC pledge itself isn’t a policy; Congress must choose to pass legislation to enact it. Contact your members of Congress today and urge them to enact ambitious infrastructure and energy legislation to reduce U.S. carbon emissions and support global climate efforts!
As Episcopalians living out our baptismal covenant, we must advocate for just legislation that protects the environment and the people living within it. Local advocacy is a critical component to address environmental justice. Consider reaching out with a group to contact your federal representatives to engage with them on potential legislation. Our office has a Faith and Citizenship Guide available on our website to help you navigate this process. You can attend town hall meetings on issues relating to environmental concerns or create a forum for your parish to educate them on the issues of climate injustice in your community and legislative solutions. As you engage in climate advocacy, remember to think outside the box leveraging your community’s unique talents and skillsets to develop further conversations.
As we conclude our creation care series, we remember our call to serve in the world as followers of Christ. When the miracle of feeding the 5,000 occurred, Jesus instructed the disciples to give the crowd something to eat (John 9:12-13). Jesus asked the disciples to use what they had—a few loaves of bread and some fish—rather than send the crowd elsewhere to look for more food. These small gifts, brought before God, created an abundance beyond what anyone could have imagined. Like the disciples, we are invited by God to bring our gifts, whatever they are or how small they seem, to the work of creation care and climate action. Let us watch what God will do with them.
- Explore Project Drawdown to see a range of climate solutions that can be implemented across different sectors
- See how humans have changed the planet in your lifetime with Google Earth Timelapse
- The New York Times’ illustrated Climate Change Guide for Kids
- Read about experts’ concerns and hopes for Biden’s climate plan
Episcopal Church Resolutions
- 2018-D006: Call for Public Investment and Community Participation in Transition to New Economies
- 2012-B023: Seek Environmental Justice
- EXC062001.12: Support for Environmental Principles, including greenhouse gas reduction and international climate finance
The Office of Government Relations