Joining Treaty Gives New Life to Ancient Teaching: "See to it that you do not destroy my world, for there is no one to repair it after you."
WASHINGTON, November 13, 1998 -- The Reform Jewish Movement, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews, 870 Reform congregations, and 1800 Reform rabbis, joined today with the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), an umbrella group comprised of 26 national Jewish organizations, to applaud the United States' signing of the Kyoto Protocol this week in Buenos Aires.
Mark J. Pelavin, assistant director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and Mark X. Jacobs, director of Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, issued the following joint statement:
"The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) and the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) applaud the Clinton administration for signing the Kyoto Protocol to address global climate change. We have been working, together, to educate the American Jewish community about the dangers of global warming. Our organizations base our work on the biblical principles of stewardship and justice. Jewish tradition teaches us that we must act to protect the well-being of future generations, safeguard the integrity of creation, pursue justice for all people, and take responsibility for our own actions. Global warming poses a danger which challenges us to come together and act according to these age-old principles.
"Respected scientists from nearly every country agree that global warming is already a reality, and that if the world community does not take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, sea levels will rise, the range of tropical diseases will spread, agriculture will be disrupted, storms will become more severe, and species will be driven to extinction. The Kyoto Protocol is an important international commitment to protect the world and its creatures. Preventing climate change is an issue of justice, as the poor and underpriviledged are likely to suffer most from the effects of global warming.
"The Kyoto Protocol stipulates that the United States reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2012. The U.S. must significantly increase energy efficiency and the use of clean energy, such as wind, solar, and natural gas in order to meet this goal. We have faith in the innovative capacity of American industries and research institutions to help find creative solutions that will, in the long run, benefit, rather than harm, the U.S. economy
"We applaud the decisions of Argentina and Kazakhstan to take steps to address climate change, and we encourage other developing nations to consider their own contribution to global efforts. However, we affirm the primary responsibility of industrial nations to take bold steps to implement the Kyoto Protocol, since they are most responsible for the build-up of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. Indeed, the United States, with 5% of the world's population, is responsible for 25% of current emissions.
"We commend President Clinton and Vice President Gore for their courageous leadership on this issue, and we encourage the Administration to continue seeking creative solutions that will protect God's creation for our generation and for generations to come. Furthermore, we call on the 106th Congress to take up the issue of global climate change in a manner which reflects U.S. responsibility. We believe that the Kyoto Protocol is a vital contemporary response to an ancient command, 'See to it that you do not destroy My world, for there is no one to repair it after you.'" (Midrash Ecclesiastes Rabbah)
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews and 1,800 Reform rabbis in 875 congregations throughout North America.