June 9, 2014
14-37-MRCCHICAGO (ELCA) — In support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule on carbon emissions, the presiding bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and The Episcopal Church said in a June 5 joint statement that the rule is a “critical step toward safeguarding the lives and livelihood of future generations.” In their statement, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton and Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori noted that recent reports have outlined the impacts that climate change has already had on the world. “Multi-year droughts, sea level rise, extreme weather events and increased flooding dramatically affect communities internationally, from the Inupiat on the north slope of Alaska to Midwestern farming families to our brothers and sisters in the Philippines,” the leaders said. “We recognize with concern that climate change particularly harms low-income communities that lack the resources and technology to adapt to rapid environmental changes.” In addition to the effect climate change has had on agriculture, food supplies and prices, the presiding bishops said that ending hunger and alleviating global poverty also are key concerns for both faith traditions. “Sustainable solutions must include both poverty alleviation and environmental conservation,” they wrote. Eaton and Jefferts Schori cited that power plants “are the single largest source of carbon dioxide pollution in the United States and major contributors to climate change. These emissions not only threaten the environmental stability of our planet, but also the health of young children and their families, disproportionally affecting the poorest among us.” They said the carbon rule proposed this week “will reduce the carbon dioxide output from existing power plants, setting a strong standard that will modernize our nation’s power plants while limiting our contribution to global climate change. Reducing carbon emissions from power plants must be a top priority for the United States if we hope to prevent the worst impacts of climate change and ensure a just and sustainable world for our generation and those to come. “Our faith traditions teach us that no single person can be whole unless all have the opportunity for full and abundant life. That wholeness and collective well-being is only possible as a global community. We recognize our connections to fellow citizens and neighbors around the world who are already suffering from the consequences of climate change, and acknowledge our responsibility to those yet unborn, who will either benefit from our efforts to curb carbon emissions or suffer from our failure to address this ethical imperative. We believe that addressing climate change is a moral obligation to our neighbors and to God’s creation, so that all may enjoy full, healthy and abundant lives,” the presiding bishops said. The proposed carbon rule for existing power plants “is the single largest step that we can take now to address the pressing issue of climate change,” they said, adding that the ELCA and The Episcopal Church “are eager to collaborate with the EPA and states across the nation to ensure that the carbon rule is implemented fairly, particularly for low-income consumers.” Eaton and Jefferts Schori concluded their statement with a prayer “that all involved in this good work will be graced with vision, hope and the search for truth as they seek to implement the carbon rule swiftly and effectively.”The full text of the statement is available at http://www.elca.org/Resources/Presiding-Bishop-Messages, and the ELCA’s social statement on “Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope and Justice” is available at www.ELCA.org/en/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Caring-for-Creation.