US Church praises climate change legislation but urge more support for poor

Leaders of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) said they were encouraged by provisions aimed at protecting the poor and vulnerable at home and abroad in the latest climate change legislation, but added that they were “very concerned about the inadequate funding for assisting the poorest people and countries on earth” to help them adapt to the impact of climate change.

In a June 22 letter to the US House of Representatives, Albany Bishop Howard J Hubbard, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Ken Hackett, president of CRS, called the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 “groundbreaking legislation” that “begins a serious and overdue effort to face up to moral and environmental challenges and represents an important beginning.”

Bishop Hubbard and Mr  Hackett cited the call for Catholic bishops and many in the faith community to “care for creation” and for “the least of these” and noted that they were “deeply disappointed” that funding for international adaptation falls far short of what is initially needed and that additional increases for such funding is pushed too far into the future.

“Catholic Relief Services is already experiencing the tragic consequences of climate change in the lives of people living in poverty,” they added, noting that CRS is helping over 100 countries adapt to the impact of climate change through health, agriculture, water and emergency preparedness programs.

Hubbard and Hackett expressed their support for provisions protecting low-income people from potential rises in energy costs resulting from the legislation, as well as measures helping not-for-profit and faith-based institutions become more energy efficient.

“As the legislative process moves forward,” they said, “we look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to increase funding for international adaptation assistance and taking a major step toward caring for creation and protecting ‘the least of these.’”

Full text of the letter can be found online at:

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