Resolution on Paris United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

Background:  The recent Paris climate talks marked the 21st “Conference of Parties” of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Over 190 participating nations negotiated a climate agreement under the auspices of the United Nations.  This international effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions began in 1992. All countries came to Paris with their own Independent Nationally Determined Contributions to reduce emissions, which helped the UNFCCC come to a consensus on issues including, but not limited to, a just clean energy transition and support for developing countries that face the worst impacts of climate change. The Green Climate Fund, while distinct from the UNFCCC process, is a critical resource contributed by both developing and developed countries for adaptation to and mitigation of climate change’s root causes in vulnerable, developing countries. Pledges to the Green Climate Fund ahead of the 21st Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC marked international dedication to combating climate change. The United States has demonstrated leadership by pledging 3 billion dollars to the GCF by 2020. However while appropriations for the Green Climate Fund were included in the fiscal year 2016 budget, no funding directly for GCF has been approved by Congress.

Whereas in Genesis (Bereishit) 2:15, God places Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to work and to protect it (לְעָבְדָהּ וּלְשָׁמְרָהּ); and

Whereas Midrash Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) Rabbah 7:13 teaches: At the time when God created Adam, God took him around the trees of the Garden of Eden, and said to him, “See My works! How beautiful and praiseworthy they are. Everything that I have created, I created for you. Take care not to damage and destroy My world, for if you damage it, there is no one to repair it after you”; and

Whereas the Rabbinical Assembly has articulated the Jewish responsibility to address global climate change and work towards an environmentally responsible energy policy on a personal, communal, and national level with 16 resolutions since 1991; and

Whereas we join with the message of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si on the environment that urgently calls for a “conversation that includes everyone, since the environment challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all”; and

Whereas the United States is one of the two largest national emitters and as such plays a critical role in reducing carbon pollution; and

Whereas the 2015 UNFCCC Paris Agreement has set a goal of limiting global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (°C) compared to pre-industrial levels and the parties will also "pursue efforts to" limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C; and

Whereas the Green Climate Fund and the Paris Agreement are necessary to invest into low-emission and climate-resilient development, to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries, and to help adapt vulnerable societies to the unavoidable impacts of climate change;

Therefore be it resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly support and advocate with other faith-based communities for the Clean Power Plan and other energy efficiency initiatives, which are critical to meeting our emissions reduction goals and

Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly urge our government to fulfill its commitment to the Green Climate Fund, to further the work of the UNFCCC to limit greenhouse gasses by providing our share of the funding for this work and

Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly support the inclusion of a robust “Loss and Damage” mechanism in the UNFCCC in order to help developing nations especially at risk from rising sea levels and other effects of climate change since they stand to lose more than more advanced nations and are less equipped to deal with these forces and

Be it further resolved that the Rabbinical Assembly support the effort to assure the greatest possible transparency in individual nations’ declarations of their fulfillment of their commitment to reduce greenhouse gasses.