Tuesday, May 5, 2009

U.S. Reps, Faith and Military Leaders Want Action on Climate Change to Prioritize Most Vulnerable

/PRNewswire / -- As climate bill negotiations reach their apex this week, Members of Congress, religious and military leaders are intensifying their efforts to ensure the legislation prioritizes the most vulnerable at home and abroad. Bolstered by the results of a new national poll that shows strong support among key religious groups for action on climate change and its impact on the most vulnerable, U.S. Reps. Heath Shuler and Tom Perriello joined religious and military leaders today to discuss the importance of these principles and announce a new radio and email campaign pressing this message in key districts across America.

"The climate bill provides us with the unique opportunity of answering the call to be good stewards of creation in a way that will not only create jobs and make our nation safer, but will also allow us to care for the least of these among us," said Congressman Heath Shuler (D-NC). "It is not often that Congress has the ability to accomplish all of this in one bill, and I am grateful for the ability to work alongside leaders in the faith and military communities to ensure that these values are reflected in the final bill."

"Addressing climate change is not just a matter of national security and sound economic policy, but a moral duty to care for God's creation and to care for the needs of those who are contributing the least to climate change but bearing the brunt of its burden," said Congressman Tom Perriello (D-VA). "We need to ensure that this legislation fairly addresses the burden on low- and middle-income families, especially at a time when millions of Americans are out of work."

According to the new national survey, sponsored by Faith in Public Life and Oxfam America and conducted by Public Religion Research:

-- Majorities of Americans, including majorities of Catholics and
Evangelicals, believe dealing with climate change now will create new
jobs and help avoid more serious economic problems in the future.
-- Nearly 7-in-10 (69%) Americans and similar numbers of Catholics and
Evangelicals agree that climate change is making it harder for the
world's poorest people to support their families.
-- Approximately three-quarters of the general public and similar numbers
of Catholics and Evangelicals favor helping the world's poorest people
adapt to food and water shortages caused by rising global

The new media campaign, beginning today, includes ads on Christian radio at saturation levels in key districts in GA, FL, NC, MS, AL, LA, VA, OH and emails to over 5.3 million evangelicals and Catholics in GA, FL, AL, and NC. The campaign, sponsored by the faith-based nonprofit American Values Network, is designed to demonstrate that the faith and military communities will stand behind and encourage undecided Members to support a climate bill that protects the most vulnerable and makes America more secure. (Listen to the ad here: http://americanvaluesnetwork.org/climate/ad)

Specifically, members of Congress are pushing for the bill to include: direct rebates to help offset increased energy costs for the most affected vulnerable people and communities and to encourage spending on energy efficiency, as well as sufficient international adaptation funding to ensure that the most vulnerable populations in developing countries have the resources they need to proactively adapt to climate change.

Religious groups have long been committed to ensuring that legislation pays special attention to the needs of vulnerable communities at home and abroad who will be most affected by climate change. They have also consistently pressed Congress to prioritize the needs of at-risk populations who will have the most difficulty adjusting to our attempts as a nation to combat climate change. The groups include the Evangelical Climate Initiative, Southern Baptist Environmental Climate Initiative, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, The United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Presbyterian Church (USA), The Episcopal Church, and Redeem the Vote.

"This important new poll confirms what I have seen in my own congregation and across the country -- people of faith are ready to address climate change and deal with its full range of effects, including its disproportionate impact on the poor," said Rev. Joel Hunter, pastor of the 10,000-member Northland, A Church Distributed. Rev. Hunter is also the voice of the campaign's radio ads.

"The moral measure of climate change legislation is how it treats the poor and vulnerable in our own country and around the world," said John Carr, Director of Justice, Peace, and Human Development for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Military groups -- including The Truman Project, VET PAC, and Veterans Green Jobs -- also support addressing the needs of those who are most impacted by climate change worldwide because they recognize the national security implications of the issue.

"Threats to nations and our world economies do not always originate with our enemies," said Rear Admiral Stuart Franklin Platt, USN Ret, a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, with over 20 medals for military sea and combat service. "Global climate change is one of the greatest threats to our national security both because it literally threatens the very planet we inhabit and because the droughts, famine, and floods it creates threaten to destabilize regions around the world."

"This new poll shows that a majority of Americans, including people of faith such as Catholics and Evangelicals, support addressing climate change even in our challenging current economic conditions. Moreover, majorities support tackling climate change in a way that assists the poor who are affected by these changes," said Dr. Robert P. Jones, president of Public Religion Research.

Results of the survey were based on telephone interviews with 1,200 adults 18 years of age and older and an over sample of 250 white evangelical Protestants and 252 Catholics. The survey was conducted from March 20 to March 27, 2009. The margin of error for the national sample is +/- 3.0% at the 95% confidence interval. The national sample of adults was interviewed using random digit dial process.

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