ISSUE AREA: CLIMATE CHANGE
NETWORK believes the Catholic Social Teaching creates a special responsibility for us and our relationship to the environment. We respect and protect the earth because it is a deliberate and magnificent part of God’s creation.
Pope Francis reminded us in Laudato Si’ that, “we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.” Global climate change threatens all people and all nations, since an impact in one location sends a ripple effect throughout the world. Addressing global climate change requires that the U.S. work as a global leader and encourage cooperative action among other nations. Like so many other challenges to justice, global climate change disproportionately impacts people in poverty and others who are vulnerable and marginalized members of our society.
NETWORK Advocates for Federal Policies That:
Mitigate the impact of global climate change on people at the economic margins
Globally, those who live on the margins of society often make their homes in locations that are the most vulnerable to severe weather events and sometimes stake their livelihoods on weather-dependent industries like agriculture and fishing. As a result, they are frequently the first to feel the impacts of climate change and almost always those who experience it most severely. Decisions in the developed nations, like use of cars, production of waste, and industrial pollution, create global effects that contribute to climate change. U.S. policy should recognize these links and put forward measures to fight climate change, thereby pursuing justice for our most vulnerable brothers and sisters.
Encourage the responsible consumption and sustainable use of all of the world’s natural resources
Each individual possesses a right to partake equally in the life-giving gift of God’s creation. Nevertheless, large corporations and extractive industries continue to poison and pollute rivers and streams, cut down immense swathes of trees, and destroy fragile ecosystems through unfair and destructive policies like fracking and offshore drilling. Just as every human being has unique dignity, every individual has a right to share equally in nature’s resources. However, consumption continues to be unequal, and those who consume the most will be those least affected by destruction of the environment. The U.S. must continue to work to regulate the dangerous policies of extractive and other industries and to encourage the implementation of comprehensive and effective environmental standards in trade agreements and corporate regulations. Those with the greatest power and wealth are those with the greatest responsibility for justly, wisely, and responsibly consuming resources.
Decrease greenhouse gas emissions that destroy our planet’s atmosphere
Each day, the release of carbon, methane, and other dangerous greenhouse gases further deplete Earth’s ozone layer and continue to overburden “carbon sinks,” natural areas such as oceans that absorb more carbon than they release. As carbon sinks overflow, temperatures worldwide will continue to rise. If not urgently addressed, these trends will become irreversible and continue to melt ice caps, leading to rising sea levels. Lawmakers should continue the fight to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Broaden research and investment into alternative green energy sources
Pursuing economic growth and combating global climate change are not mutually exclusive. Investment in green energy sources, from solar to wind to geothermal, will spur the creation of long-lasting jobs. These are jobs that can pay a living wage, reduce dependency on fossil fuels, and decrease the costs of near-constant reconstruction in the face of ever more powerful hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters. The U.S. should encourage significant investment in this growing industry in order to protect the environment and help the U.S. and its global partners grow economically.
Reaffirm our role as environmental stewards who care for all of God’s creation
Across the world, rainforests are being destroyed, oceans are being polluted, and flora and fauna are moving increasingly rapidly towards extinction. Catholic Social Teaching calls us to be stewards of God’s creation. This call is not to simply tolerate the natural world, but to realize we are powerful members of it. We must embrace the beauty and diversity of nature and everything it has to offer and, most importantly, protect it. As a result, policymakers must commit to defending our planet’s biodiversity.
- Paris Climate Change Goals
- Green Climate Fund