Tag Archives: Environment
NYC UN Climate Summit

Support a Strong Climate Agreement

The UN Climate Summit, set to take place in New York City on September 23rd, is meant to catalyze action on climate change and mobilize political will for a strong global climate treaty at the Paris 2015 United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). While international negotiations have proven challenging in the past, we need to call on our leaders to take action now.

As people of faith, we are commanded to take care of our earth and its resources. Fourteenth century Jewish scholar, Rabbi Isaac ben Sheshet wrote “one is forbidden from gaining a livelihood at the expense of another’s health” (Responsa 196). We understand that as members of the Jewish community, we must live by these wise and ethical words. We must therefore advocate for a binding, global commitment that recognizes that while the poorest communities are most impacted by the consequences of climate change, they often contribute least to the problem.

Dozens of faith denominations are jointly circulating a petition calling for moral action on the issue of climate change. You can add your name to the “Faithful Call to Address Climate Change” and join the faith gatherings and events in New York City, September 20-21st.

“As we approach the UN negotiations for 2015, we prayerfully ask that the US government lead, with a commitment to:

  • Legally binding solutions that reduce national greenhouse gas emissions to levels consistent with scientific recommendations that prevent the worst impacts of human induced climate change.
  • Provide poor and vulnerable communities here and abroad meaningful support to build low carbon and climate-resilient societies.”

Read and sign the full petition here.

testifying at EPA

Testimony in Support of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Yesterday evening, I had the privilege of testifying at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in support of the Clean Power Plan, a proposal to limit carbon emissions from existing power plants. I’m pleased to share the full testimony below.

“Hello, my name is Sophie Golomb and I am a Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, which advocates on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose 900 congregations across North America include 1.3 million Reform Jews, as well as the Central Conference of Americans Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2000 Reform rabbis. I thank you for the opportunity to speak today in support of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, a proposal to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants. These proposed federal standards, which target a key source of carbon pollution, mark an historic step in our nation’s commitment to protecting public health and curbing climate change. Read more…

President Obama's Climate Plan

Building Resilience and Adapting to Climate Change

Yesterday, President Obama announced a crucial aspect of his Climate Action Plan: a comprehensive proposal to provide necessary infrastructures in preparing the United States to withstand the most severe impacts of climate change, like extreme weather events and increased flooding.

In November, the president established the State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience to advise him on how the federal government can best respond to communities nationwide that are already dealing with the impacts of climate change. The task force is composed of governors, mayors, county officials, and tribal leaders who thoroughly understand how the communities they represent have been affected by the increased frequency and severity of heat waves, droughts, wildfires, storms, and floods.

If you take a moment to peruse the Third National Climate Assessment, released this past May, you will see that climate change impacts every region of our country. In the Northeast, river flooding and heat waves plague the most disadvantaged communities. In the Southwest, severe droughts stress water sources, and rising sea levels pose risk to highways, bridges, power plants, and sewage treatment plants. In the Midwest, increased temperatures are having a negative effect on human health and suppressing agricultural yields. All of these impacts of climate disruption call for the mitigation of carbon pollution and emissions of greenhouse gases. Take a moment to tell the EPA that you support the Clean Power Plan, which will limit emissions from existing power plants.

However, emissions reductions are not enough. We must also promote efforts to support communities throughout the country in adapting to the realities of our changing climate. The president’s plan and the Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience help communities build better resilience to the impacts of climate change. This is particularly important in ensuring that every American, from every community and every region, is protected from future extreme weather events and other disasters.

Many times throughout history, the Jewish people have faced crisis or the threat of destruction, but we have emerged with hope. In considering the ecological crisis facing our world, we must recognize that Jewish tradition calls on us to adapt to our changing climate and be resilient for the benefit of future generations.

URJ Crane Lake Camp Acts on Climate

This week, the Chaverim and Olim campers (ages 13-15) of URJ Crane Lake Camp have been learning about the issue of climate change and exploring their personal impact on the environment. As is tradition at Crane Lake, each week of the summer focuses on a particular Jewish value, middot. This week, the value is bal tashchit, “do not destroy,” which has commonly been understood as, “do not waste,” in the context of our stewardship of the planet and our use of natural resources. Read more…

International Climate Policy: The Upcoming UN Climate Summit

“I challenge you to bring to the Summit bold pledges. Innovate, scale-up, cooperate and deliver concrete action that will close the emissions gap and put us on track for an ambitious legal agreement through the UNFCCC process.” –UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

As part of efforts to combat global climate change, the United Nations will hold a Climate Summit in New York in September. The Summit, organized by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, will serve as an opportunity for global Heads of State, government officials, and business, finance, civil society and local leaders to discuss catalyzing action to help the world shift toward a low-carbon economy. Read more…

#ActOnClimate

#ActOnClimate: One Year of the Climate Action Plan

On June 25, 2013, President Obama announced his Climate Action Plan, aimed at reducing our nation’s impact on the environment and curbing climate change. So where are we now, one year later?

In September, the Administration rolled out a proposed rule for carbon emissions limits for new power plants and just earlier this month, a proposal for existing power plants. Despite some push back, the Obama Administration and the EPA have held true to their promise from one year ago to respond to the most dire effects of climate change by developing regulations to mitigate our impact, shaping methods to make our nation more resilient and better able to adapt to our changing world, and demonstrating leadership in the international arena. We know all too well that while the United States is one of the largest emitters in the world, more vulnerable countries suffer the greatest impacts.

That is not to say that the United States is not also feeling the effects of climate disruption. In the recently released 2014 National Climate Assessment report, a team of more than 300 experts guided by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee conducted an extensive review of how climate change poses severe challenges in every region and every sector of the United States. The report concluded that we are not immune to the effects of climate change, and while once considered a “distant threat,” we are feeling the effects now.

How does climate change affect you? Why do you #ActOnClimate? On twitter, facebook or your social media outlet of choice, post a picture or a story about why you personally care about our changing climate:

I will #ActOnClimate to…

I #ActOnClimate because… Read more…

Teva Seminar participants

Ten Teva Tidbits: Reflecting on the Teva Seminar

“Baruch atah (a strong breath out), eloheynu ruach ha-olam, a-sher kid-shanu b’mitz-votav vitzi-vanu la-asok b-divray torah. Blessed are You, Breath of Life, Spirit of the Universe, who sanctifies us with Your Mitzvot and commands us to engage in the study of Torah.” – Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Last week I had the pleasure and privilege of presenting at and attending the Teva Seminar on Jewish Outdoor, Food and Environmental Education at the Isabella Freedman Retreat Center in Falls Village, CT. Isolated in the grounds of this Jewish, environmental haven, I shared time with and learned from some of the most interesting voices in the Jewish environmental movement. Between the nearly two dozen sessions I attended throughout the week, and the time I spent with Jewish environmental leaders, it would be impossible to share every lesson and insight in this single blog post. Instead, I have Ten Teva Tidbits to impart below: Read more…

Reform CA Wander No More

Reform CA: Victory for Affordable Homes and the Environment

The following statement was released today by Reform California:

As leaders of Reform CA, an initiative of the California Reform Jewish Movement for justice, we are overjoyed by the bold decision of our state leadership to invest significant and long-term cap-and-trade funding into the building of affordable homes near transit in California.

Rabbi Stephanie Kolin, Co-Director of the Union for Reform Judaism’s Just Congregations and Lead Organizer of Reform CA, stated:

“In the book of Genesis, the protection of the earth is placed in our hands.  And as a Jewish people whose central narrative is that of wandering without a place to call home, we have a fundamental responsibility to address the suffering that comes when one who seeks shelter can find none.  It is with this dual responsibility in mind that we have come together on this issue as Reform Jews from every corner of California to turn our faith into action.”

Jennifer Brodkey Kaufman, a resident of Sacramento and Chair of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, added:

“Building these homes will help reduce the number of miles traveled by cars on our state’s roads and highways by over one hundred million miles each year. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions will be significant, as will be the impact on the lives of so many of California’s hard working families who struggle to afford their rent or mortgage.”

To campaign for this decision, Reform CA leaders traveled to Sacramento to meet with over 30 legislators and the Governor’s office. Local clergy and lay leaders also campaigned in their home districts and sent over 700 letters to Assembly Members and Senators. In addition, 55 California rabbis and cantors signed a petition to Governor Jerry Brown, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins. Dozens of Reform rabbis preached about this issue from their pulpits, making spiritual and moral calls to address California’s urgent need for affordable homes and a healthy environment.

We applaud the courageous leadership of Governor Jerry Brown, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, as well as our state legislature, including Senate President Pro Tempore Elect Kevin de León.  Today is a great day for California — and for our children, our grandchildren, and the many generations that will follow as we take another step closer to the California of our dreams.

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