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Will We Always Have Paris?

Will We Always Have Paris?

Signing of the Paris Climate Agreement

After weeks of meetings, speculation, and deliberation, the question of whether or not the United States will remain a signatory to the Paris Climate Agreement remains unresolved. The decision, rumored to be announced May 9, has been postponed until after the Group of 7 (G7) summit in Italy at the end of the month.

President Trump promised on the campaign trail that he would “cancel” the agreement if elected. Delays in announcing any plans to withdraw from the Paris Agreement are viewed positively by those supporting the agreement. The Paris Agreement is a historic and unprecedented international effort to address climate change and adapt to its effects.

The effects of climate change – extreme weather, floods, drought, famine and disease – disproportionately effect low-income and communities of color. As Reform Jews, we have a unique responsibility to address climate change for the sake of our earth and for all the people who dwell on it. Our rabbinic commentary tells us that we must, “See to it that you do not spoil and destroy your world; for if you do, there will be no one else to repair it.” (Midrash Kohelet Rabbah). We are also taught, over and over in our Jewish text and tradition, of the sanctity of human life. We are taught to “love the stranger” (Deuteronomy 10:19). It is at the intersection of these two obligations – to our earth and to vulnerable communities – that we must proclaim our support for this Paris Agreement.

Many groups and individuals are adding their voices to this debate. Two weeks ago, a group of 24 faith organizations, including the Union for Reform Judaism, came together on a letter to the President and Secretary of State urging the continued participation of the United States in the deal, in name and in deed. The letter stated, “we join together to urge you, as the President of the United States, to remain in the Paris Agreement and to meet our commitments in that agreement. The Paris Agreement will safeguard God’s creation, protect the vulnerable, address the impacts of climate change and fulfill our moral obligation to future generations.”

While we wait for the President’s decision, there is much work to be done. The faith community has and will continue to be relentless in our support for the Paris Climate Agreement. If fully implemented, this agreement is would significantly decrease the devastating effects of climate change, fulfilling our thousands year old commandment to “till and to tend” to the earth (Genesis 2:15). Visit the RAC’s website to learn more about our environmental work. 

Lizzie Stein is a 2016-2017 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. Originally from Phoenix, Arizona, she is a member of Temple Kol Ami and graduated from Occidental College. 

Lizzie Stein

Published: 6/02/2017