Climate and Energy Policy Principles
The sage Hillel says, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?" Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14
Anyone conscious of the dangers to the environment in today’s world sees the timeliness of Hillel’s saying. The environment effects us all both as individuals and as a collective. We all must be part of the “I” which is the human race and act for ourselves because otherwise who will. Further, action must happen now before any more irreparable harm is done to our world. Concurrently, The Coalition for the Environment and Jewish Life ("COEJL") adopts the following climate and energy policy priorities. These priorities represent a working consensus of the organized Jewish community and have been endorsed by B'nai B'rith International; Central Conference of American Rabbis; Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, Inc.; Jewish Council for Public Affairs; the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation; Jewish War Veterans; National Council of Jewish Women; The Rabbinical Assembly; The Union for Reform Judaism; Women's League for Conservative Judaism; and Women of Reform Judaism.
· Promote Domestic Energy Security
o The Jewish community strongly supports specific domestic policies that reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Such policies include measures to increase fuel economy and encourage use of alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind energy (either through tax incentives or by mandating additional production from renewable electricity). In particular, the Jewish community supports a Renewable Electricity Standard requiring that at least 15% of our domestic electricity production come from renewable sources by 2020.
· Need for Aggressive Action
o The Jewish community supports aggressive climate change legislation to reduce these impacts. Such legislation should aim to reduce carbon concentrations by 80% by 2050, with significant interim reductions.
· Support for Short-Term Emission Reductions
o The Jewish community supports policies that require short-term emissions reductions in accordance with the recommendations of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Such reductions should reduce carbon emissions by 25-40% by the year 2020.
· Prudence Is Paramount
o The Jewish community supports policies that proactively address climate change by reducing emissions to avoid its potentially catastrophic effects. This means supporting legislation that prevents global temperature from exceeding 2 degrees Celsius by limiting concentrations of heat-trapping gases in accordance with scientific principles.
· Need for U.S. Leadership
o The Jewish community believes that the United States should not wait for China, India and other nations to join an international agreement before taking action. Rather, the United States should lead by example and create technologies to facilitate the global transition to a low-carbon economy. US leadership is particularly appropriate because the United States produces a disproportionate share of global emissions; while the United States constitutes 5% of the world's population, it emits 25% of its greenhouse gases. At the same time, China, India and other developing nations should be urged to reduce emissions as fast as possible, because US efforts to address climate change will be ineffective without global participation.
· Addressing the Needs of the Poor
o The Jewish commitment to justice demands that we support policies that address inequities both in the United States and abroad. Domestically, federal policy should provide financial assistance to vulnerable populations (for increased heating and cooling costs, weatherization, and the purchase of energy-efficient appliances) and support employment training and opportunities in an emerging "green" economy. Internationally, the United States should provide funds to help vulnerable populations adapt to climate change. The United States should also look to transfer appropriate technology.
· Obligation to Avoid Unnecessary Waste
o The Jewish community supports policies that encourage energy conservation in our homes, communities, and government institutions. Such policies include incentives to develop efficient technologies, tax credits to encourage the purchase of such technologies, energy standards for new buildings and appliances, heightened fuel economy standards, and provisions for public transit. the Jewish community also embraces a Renewable Electricity Standard ("RES") to expedite the transition to a green economy. Such a mandate would require that at least 15% of our domestic electricity production be from renewable sources by 2020.
· Market Mechanisms Are Desirable
o The Jewish community believes that a balance between regulatory and market approaches is achievable and desirable. By establishing a firm cap on emissions, federal climate change legislation will create needed price signals to encourage emission reductions. At the same time, the regulatory flexibility associated with a cap and trade policy allows for technological innovation and emission reductions at the lowest possible cost.
· Flexibility Is Critical
o The Jewish community believes that Federal climate legislation must allow for periodic assessment and revision to accommodate emerging science and human error.