The first ever climate change legislation to be considered by Congress went down last week when the Senate failed to muster enough votes to end the filibuster. The news was bittersweet. On the one hand, it’s sad to see any climate bill rejected, even one as feckless as the Lieberman-Warner bill was. On the other hand, the bill did not set high enough emissions reduction standards, and gave away too much to the energy industries at the expense of low income families. Its demise clears the way for much better law.

So what do we do now?

While the Senate was wrestling with Lieberman-Warner, Representatives Waxman, Markey, and Inslee began circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter around the House outlining four principles for effective climate change legislation. That is, they outlined principles that any climate change bill should uphold in order to be considered effective and just. They are:

  • Reduce emissions to avoid dangerous global warming;
  • Transition America to a clean energy economy;
  • Recognize and minimize any economic impacts from global warming legislation; and
  • Aid communities and ecosystems vulnerable to harm from global warming

These are principles in keeping with our 2006 Statement of Conscience on Global Warming/Climate Change, principles that we can wholeheartedly endorse. And so we decided that the most positive, effective thing that we could do was to do just that – to endorse and get other Representatives to endorse these principles. Two weeks ago, we asked folks from the UU State Advocacy Networks to collaborate on this and they enthusiastically agreed, bringing their own considerable organizational skills to bear, and together we urged people to call their Reps. Last Friday, even as Lieberman-Warner fizzled in the Senate, I created an online action campaign that allows people to fill in their name and address and automatically send emails to their Representative, urging them to sign onto the letter. I sent it out through our newslist Advocacy News Friday afternoon and by Monday morning over 200 UUs had taken action. By Tuesday afternoon, the number was over 250.

All I can say is that I am awed by my fellow Unitarian Universalists. From the passing of the 2006 SOC to the commitment shown by the State Advocacy Networks, to the awesome response of individual UUs to this action campaign, you guys demonstrate over and over again how much UUs care about global climate change. And I think we’re having an effect. When we started this effort two weeks ago the number of signatories to the Dear Colleague letter was 63. It’s now 83. That’s not to say that we can claim all the credit – other fine people and organizations are working on this with us – but it shows that together we can make a difference.

And so let’s work a little harder even, and more strategically. As Congress winds down in preparation for the Fall election and then a new session, it is even more important now to get as many Representatives as we can to sign the Waxman, Markey, and Inslee Climate Change Principles letter. It establishes the standards by which future climate change legislation is to be measured. Let’s have our Representatives on record supporting effective and just legislation.

Currently, 83 Representatives have signed the letter. We can easily make it an even 100. And if we try a little harder, we can make it 150. Please take a look at the list of signatories. If your Representative is on the list, call or email to THANK them for taking a principled stand on climate change. If your Representative is not on the list, call or email to let them know about the letter and how important it is to you that they sign on. The Capitol Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121. Click here to find your Representative and their contact information. Or use the online action campaign to urge your Representative to support principles for effective climate change legislation.

About the Author
Kat Liu

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