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Thursday, 18 September 2014 20:17

Black Church Leaders Rev Up for Climate Justice

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It’s a common misconception that churches haven’t been doing their part in the green fight — and black churches in particular. Your John Birch and Alan Keyes Christians notwithstanding, that’s not entirely true. Katharine Hayhoe, a leading climate scientist, works with evangelical Christians on the issue. Rev. William Barber’s Moral Movement counts promoting environmental justice among its 14-point agenda. Ditto for the Faith Leaders for Environmental Justice in New York, who’ve been working on food, energy, and climate issues for years now.

The real battle is not only in the streets of New York but also in extraction hot spots from Appalachia to Alaska

Thousands of people will take to New York City’s streets on Sept. 21 for the People’s Climate March, in what organizers hope will be the biggest ever mobilization for climate justice and a wake-up call for world leaders.

Two House lawmakers are about to find out whether Congress can solve a problem precipitated, in part, by concerns over climate change — without devolving into a fight over climate change. It’s a politically perilous exercise for Reps. David B. McKinley, R-W.Va., and Peter Welch, D-Vt. They both acknowledge that many of their colleagues can’t help turning a discussion on environmental policy into a bitterly partisan debate, and it’s made it hard to effectively tackle any issue that’s even tangentially related.
When the political system fails to provide necessary reforms, mass movements arise to force political change. The latest climate report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns of irreversible climate impacts, and paints a dire forecast for future generations. Climate activists have come to the conclusion that when our governments are bought and sold, policy shifts must begin in the streets. Compromised politicians will not willingly act to save the ecological balance of the planet.
Any chance of stabilizing the climate hinges on transitioning to zero greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as humanly possible. Simply slowing the rise of emissions will not work. For the first time, the world’s leading climate authority, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has embraced a goal of near zero greenhouse gas emissions or below.

Here’s a reality check: Since President Obama took office in 2009, not a single top level official from the White House, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Council on Environmental Quality, Department of the Interior or Department of Justice has ever made a fact-finding tour of mountaintop removal mining communities in central Appalachia, home to one of the worst health and humanitarian disasters in the nation. Even worse, a federal judge ruled last month that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may disregard studies on the health impacts of mountaintop removal mining in its permitting process.

Charities are calling on the health sector to divest from fossil fuels and declare climate change a public health emergency. On the back of the WHO’s first ever global climate and health conference this week, fifteen organisations have signed a letter urging the financial shift.
The federal government will resume oil and gas leasing in California following a report released Thursday that found little scientific evidence that fracking and similar extraction techniques are dangerous. The Bureau of Land Management said the report — and additional environmental reviews — will allow it to begin leasing on public land next year.
Big power stations in Europe could be redundant within 10-20 years as electric cars, cheaper batteries and new solar technologies transform the way electricity is generated, stored and distributed, say analysts at the world’s largest private bank.
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is working to forge a sweeping international climate change agreement to compel nations to cut their planet-warming fossil fuel emissions, but without ratification from Congress.
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