Vermont Interfaith Power and Light

A faith-based response to global climate change

Churches take up warming as moral issue

By SAM SWANSON

The development of the climate change legislation – H.520 – and the governor's commitment to take administrative action to implement some of the bill's provisions is an important start. But the current impasse – the passage of H.520 by the Legislature and the subsequent June 6 veto by Gov. James Douglas – leaves too little accomplished and too much undone. Vermont needs effective action now!

Vermont Interfaith Power & Light is a statewide organization of faith communities that are working together to tackle the challenge of climate change by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.

Climate change is a crisis:

• Its consequences are both global and local, and are potentially catastrophic.

• Its effects will hurt most those people who least can afford the damages it will cause.

• Everyone contributes to this crisis, but no one is responsible and that makes it difficult to organize and carry out an effective response.

• Growing evidence shows that we have limited time to mitigate the human-caused contributions to climate change before the processes become irreversible

This is for us a moral issue. Our faith calls us beyond a concern for ourselves, our state or our nation, to embrace responsibility for all forms of life and the planet that sustains them.

We need a Vermont program that will reduce carbon emissions by reducing waste in the use of fossil fuels burned to heat buildings, operate facilities of all kinds, and transport people and goods. Investing in efficiency eliminates the wasteful use of fossil fuels, which produces unnecessary carbon emissions.

H.520 allows Efficiency Vermont, which has demonstrated it can save Vermont money by improving electricity efficiency, to help Vermonters save energy and money in their use of fossil fuels. We appeal to the governor and the Legislature to extend this program to address fossil fuel waste and carbon emissions reductions. And, we call on the governor and the Legislature to make the difficult decisions needed, to find the resources to enable Efficiency Vermont to help Vermonters and Vermont businesses to make productive investments in fossil fuel efficiency.

Investments in fuel efficiency will reduce the cost of heating our buildings, and operating our farms, schools, businesses and homes. These investments save money, create good paying jobs in Vermont and strengthen the state's economy.

While the differences between the governor and the Legislature are large, the urgent importance of bridging these differences is much greater. We call on our state's leaders to put politics aside at this crucial juncture and to enact a comprehensive program that provides the resources to support action by all sectors of the Vermont community –individual households, large and small businesses, schools, government and not-for-profit institutions.

Sam Swanson of South Burlington is the president of Vermont Interfaith Power & Light. The Web site for the organization is www.vtipl.org.

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