On Tuesday, March 28, 2017, the President signed an Executive Order attacking the Clean Power Plan and other critical environmental and climate change safeguards that protect our common home and public health. This Executive Order not only reverses previous efforts to address climate change, but also promotes the further extraction and production of fossil fuels on federal lands. This represents a significant step backwards when it comes to protecting clean air and water, addressing worsening climate change and protecting poor and vulnerable people.
In his groundbreaking encyclical on ecology, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis makes clear that climate change is one of the principal challenges facing society and the global community. The pope reminds us that our care for one another and our care for the earth are intimately connected, and that humanity is not faced “with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather one complex crisis which is both social and environmental.”
- The Clean Power Plan represents one of the most significant steps taken by the U.S. to reduce carbon emissions from power plants, our country’s single greatest source of climate pollution. Dismantling the Clean Power Plan severely limits the United States’ ability to reach its international climate goals at a time when U.S. leadership is crucial. These standards sought to protect the health and welfare of all people, especially children, the elderly, and poor and vulnerable communities, from harmful pollution emitted from power plants and from the impacts of climate change.
- This Executive Order also reduces the consideration of climate change in government decision-making. The President calls for a reconsideration of the social cost of carbon, a measurement that puts a real-world price on the harms caused by carbon pollution damage, including impacts on human health, property damage from increased flood risk, ecosystem losses and agricultural productivity impacts. This reconsideration will likely lead to a lowering of the value of the social cost of carbon, thus making it more difficult to enact policies to cut carbon pollution.
We know the effects of climate change are borne by the most vulnerable people, whether at home or around the world. Increasing floods, droughts, food and water insecurity, and conflict over declining resources are all making the lives of the world’s poorest people even more precarious. Pope Francis in Laudato Si’, laments the widespread indifference to “a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation.” Catholic Relief Services echoed this concern in a recent report noting, “As arable land and water become increasingly scarce, conflict looms, along with the potential for migration from the most affected countries and a repetitive cycle of costly emergency response.”
Today, we cannot remain indifferent to this global challenge confronting the human family.
Let us stand with Pope Francis in calling on our elected leaders to take courageous actions to care for our common home, protect public health and poor and vulnerable people most impacted by climate change.
- Urge your Member of Congress to oppose the recent Executive Order, and instead to work together in a constructive way to enact policies that reduce our country’s contribution to climate change, protect poor and vulnerable people, and care for our common home.
The United States must take a leadership role in reducing our contributions to climate change to protect current and future generations and vulnerable communities. Let’s stand together to move forward to achieve cleaner air and water, healthier communities and a sustainable future!