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Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life Welcomes Administration’s Support for the Green Climate Fund

Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life Welcomes Administration’s Support for the Green Climate Fund

January 20, 2017

The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), a program of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, joins the interfaith environmental community in celebrating the outgoing Obama Administration’s decision to transfer needed monies to the Green Climate Fund.

Set up as part of the international framework for addressing climate change, the Green Climate Fund is meant to equip lower-income nations and communities with tools to both mitigate their further climate change contributions, and adapt for the benefit of their citizens to the adverse changes already being wrought by climate change. Examples of “mitigation” include skipping the fossil-fuel grid altogether and getting needed electricity to rural villages through small onsite solar and wind installations; “adaptation” includes building levees and installing storm breaks against rising seas, and strengthening public health services to cope with new vectors for disease as their carriers’ ranges spread.

“The Green Climate Fund is the moral heart of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,” said COEJL Chairperson, Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb. “Nations which did the least to cause today’s challenges are bearing the brunt of climate impacts, even as people there are least able to adapt to changing realities. Nations like the United States, which got ahead based on the early use of fossil fuels, now have a moral obligation to take the lead in helping the rest of the world to catch up in climate-sensitive ways. Even as the Jewish value of protecting the seder beresheet (order of creation) calls us to reduce our further greenhouse emissions, so the value of r’difiat tzedek (justice justice you shall pursue) suggests that the Obama Administration did the right thing in funding the GCF while we can.”

As previous COEJL and Jewish Council for Public Affairs statements have noted, the United States carries a lot of weight in international agreements and negotiations. The U.S. meeting its initial target for funding the Green Climate Fund will help compel other countries to do the same. The Green Climate fund is meant to ultimately channel from all developed nations some $100 billion toward mitigation and adaptation in less developed countries – which may sound like a lot, but is itself just a fraction of the need. Consonant with COEJL and Jewish communal concerns about the intersection of social justice and environmental impact, the GCF is the leading international platform for the same “environmental justice” efforts that COEJL and its activists are pursuing at the local, regional, and national levels.

As the Jewish pillar of the National Religious Partnership on the Environment, COEJL has long worked closely with its multifaith partners on securing funding for the Green Climate Fund. “It’s no accident that international climate change aid has been such a signature concern for all the groups with whom we work since caring for marginalized communities is at the heart of these faith traditions,” said the National Religious Partnership on the Environment Executive Director Cassandra Carmichael. “We are grateful to COEJL and the Jewish community for their critical work on this issue, and for their steadfast partnership in this sacred effort towards justice and sustainability.”

COEJL is a program of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, which itself joins the call for environmental justice

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