On Wednesday, September 6, 2017, the United States Environmental Protection Agency held a hearing in Washington D.C. to hear public testimony on a proposed rollback of regulations related to greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards in cars and light duty trucks in the coming Model Years 2021 - 2015. Parliament of the World's Religions Executive Director Dr. Larry Greenfield was among the auto industry-insiders, scientific experts, concerned citizens, environmental activists, public health leaders and voices of faith and conscience lined up to defend the regulations already in place.
Listen below to hear his remarks on why the moral imperative of climate action must be adopted by policy makers and advocated by the faith-based, spiritual and religious voices of the world, or read on for the full transcript.
Testimony of Rev. Dr. Larry Greenfield
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Hearing
September 6, 2017
Midterm Evaluation of Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards for Model Years 2022-2025
I am Larry Greenfield, an ordained minister in the American Baptist Churches USA.
In my calling as a minister, I have served as a congregational pastor and campus minister, a faculty member, dean, and president of divinity schools, a research scholar focusing on religion, ethics, and health, a theologian for an organization relating religion and politics, a denominational executive, and I now serve as Executive Director of the Parliament of the World’s Religion, the largest, oldest, most diverse and inclusive convening interfaith organization in the world. It exists to “cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities and foster engagement with the world’s guiding institutions in order to achieve a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world.”
I am also a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a great-grandfather.
Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you on behalf of the Parliament of the World’s Religions and for my own family and all the families of our shared, earthly home.
The Parliament of the World’s Religions has a 25-year record of commitment to the care of the earth. Issues related to the environment have been addressed at every convening of the Parliament, including the most recent gathering in 2015, where more than 10,000 people from 80 countries and 200 unique spiritual traditions attended, the majority of whom cited climate change as their primary reason for participating. Why this continuing focus on the earth’s sustainability? Because this is the preeminent challenge of our time and because every religious and spiritual tradition across the globe, however different they may be in beliefs, teachings, and practices, understands that the earth is a sacred gift to be treasured, honored, and cared for.
Climate change, of course, is not the only serious challenge we face.
A nuclear war is today a great danger. The leaders of North Korea are putting many nations in peril with their threats and their testing of nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems. A large-scale nuclear war would be devastating, in both the short and long terms.
But the political leaders of the United States are also putting the global community in great peril, near and long term, with their reckless abandonment of the highly effective efforts to reduce climate change.
As the clear leader in contributing to climate change, the United States has the greatest responsibility in leading the nations of the world in its reversal. But the nation’s leaders are doing exactly the opposite: step-by-step they are increasing the nation’s contribution to what puts the whole world in peril; they are threatening my family, and yours, and every family on the face of the earth.
Withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord was an act of international belligerence and incredible inanity, cloaked in mistaken claims of national self-interest – a hyper-nationalism, which, if followed by other nations, would hasten the devastation of the global environment.
Now we face the prospect of the country’s national leaders reversing the fuel economy and emissions standards for automobiles and light trucks -- regulations that have already proven to be one of the most effective ways of reducing the nation’s greenhouse gas pollution – the very factor that contributes most to climate degradation.
The Parliament does not pretend to be a scientific organization. But we do listen to scientists, especially when there is overwhelming consensus on an issue. That certainly applies to climate change. We are persuaded beyond any reasonable doubt that the reality and the causes of climate change are settled science. We are also convinced that the evidence for the danger posed by human-caused climate change is irrefutable.
We are even more certain that the religious and spiritual traditions from across the globe call every human being, and every political leader, to exercise exacting moral responsibility on this issue. We join with people of conscience everywhere in calling on the leaders of the United States to change both their stance and their policies on issues of climate change and to join with other peoples and nations to take action to make the whole earth sustainable.
The self-centered arrogance must end. The reckless dismissal of facts must stop. The disregard of the wisdom of the ages and the ethical foundations of our civilizations must cease.
Time is of the essence. This is the time to join with the nations and families of our interconnected earth to care for the gift of a planet that can give life to all. Now is time not to diminish and destroy the world; now is the crucial the time to allow it to flourish.