Washington, D.C., December 14, 2015 – The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) joins the global celebration over the signing of an international agreement to combat climate change. The agreement was made Saturday, following two weeks of negotiations at the 21st Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris. COEJL sent a Jewish representative to Paris with an interfaith delegation through Religions for Peace, and linked each Hannukah candle with Paris updates and eco-actions. Following the agreement, COEJL Chair, Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb, issued the following statement:
“The broad-based Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life understands climate change as the defining issue of our time. Key Jewish values like stewardship, justice, sustainability, and human dignity are critical components of a much-needed agreement to mitigate the root causes and adapt to the effects of climate change. This week’s agreement was a step in the right direction, though it falls short of meeting the needs of impacted communities, and requires energetic follow-up actions.
As Jews, we are charged with being stewards of the earth and its resources. The Paris agreement is ambitious, and, importantly, has the capacity to ratchet up ambition over time. The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life lauds Secretary Kerry and the United States negotiators for their leadership.
The obligation to champion the poor and vulnerable around the world, to be seekers of justice, is fundamental to our Judaism. Low-lying areas and Small Island Developing States already see their very existence threatened by sea level rise. We will all soon feel the impacts of climate refugees and displacement. These key issues, and others in the area of “Loss and Damage,” are insufficiently met in the agreement. Much more must be done on an international scale to ensure the safety of those most impacted by climate disruption in the years ahead.
The Jewish community understands the need for a quick transition to a clean energy economy. This is necessary for us to ensure serious and equitable emissions reductions in order to reduce the worst effects of climate change. The Paris agreement addresses adaptation finance, and offers resources for a sustainable energy transition.
Now, we must all work together to ensure that those commitments are met, internationally as well as in the United States. We call on our legislative leaders to act responsibly as stewards of the environment and to safeguard our planet. The Paris agreement is only the beginning of the massive change we must make together.”
COEJL is an initiative of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the Jewish partner to the National Religious Partnership on the Environment. The Jewish Council for Public Affairs is the public affairs arm of the organized Jewish community and serves as the advisory body for the 16 national and 125 local Jewish community relations organizations.