WASHINGTON – As the U.S. House moves towards consensus on the climate change bill, evangelical voices are weighing in on the legislation that could finally put a cap on greenhouse gas emissions.
The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), a group whose partners include World Vision and Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, has expressed support for the energy and climate change bill.
It called on its supporters this week to contact their representative in the House if they are on the Energy and Commerce Committee and urge them to support "strong action" on the climate change bill.
"As Christians, part of loving our neighbors, caring for 'the least of these,' and being good stewards of God's creation involves working to overcome climate change, including asking our elected officials to support significant action," wrote EEN in an action alert e-mail.
But the group emphasized it wants a climate legislation that is economically responsible as well as one that takes into account how policies will affect the world's poor.
In particular, EEN wants the bill to include funding to help the needy in poor countries adapt to the consequences of climate change and policies that address how the poor in this country will cope with rising energy prices.
The We Get It! Campaign, a Christian grassroots movement that believes the seriousness of global warming has been overhyped, shares EEN's concern about how the new climate change policies might affect the poor. But unlike the EEN, the We Get It! campaign is against the cap-and-trade system.
Dr. E. Calvin Beisner, founder and national spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation as well as a spokesman for the We Get It! campaign, believes the cap-and-trade and similar policies to fight global warming will further push the world's poor into poverty by denying them basic needs such as abundant, affordable energy.
"We face important environmental challenges, but must be cautious of claims that our planet is in peril from speculative dangers like man-made global warming," wrote Beisner in an e-mail to The Christian Post.
He added, "We must help people fulfill their God-given potential as producers and stewards by promoting economic development, which will help them adapt no matter what they face in the ever-changing climate of God's Earth."
Groups that have signed the We Get It! declaration include the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Family Research Council, and Concerned Women for America.
The energy and climate change bill has been giving a lot of attention because for the first time in years a comprehensive climate change legislation could become law. President Obama, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have all said passing a climate change bill is among their top priorities.
Supporters of the climate change legislation urge Congress to quickly pass the bill before the international climate change talks in Copenhagen this December. They say the U.S. needs to show its commitment to cutting emissions in order to get other big polluters like China and India to also reduce their greenhouse gas output.
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Energy Committee, said he hopes to have the bill passed by the committee by the end of next week.