On December 12, 2015, the world came together to adopt the Paris Accord. The global community declared its intention to limit the warming of our planet to well below two degrees centigrade and pursue efforts to remain at or below one and a half degrees of warming. Under the Paris Agreement, every country set their own emissions goals and challenged each other to set more ambitious emissions targets to keep warming to a minimum. While the agreement did face some criticism for not creating enforceable and binding emissions targets, and some worry that the current emissions targets countries have set for themselves aren’t ambitious enough, the Paris Accord is widely hailed as a positive step in coordinating climate action between the 176 counties who have currently ratified the agreement.
Perhaps the largest shock to the Paris Accord has been the announcement on June 1, 2017 by the Trump administration that the US would begin the process of withdrawal. While the US cannot formally withdraw until 2020, the administration sent a clear message to the rest of the world that we would not lead in the struggle against climate change. As a result of this federal abdication of leadership, local and state governments along with business, schools, and faith leaders came together to take action. We Are Still In is a coalition of more than 2,700 leaders from all 50 states who are demonstrating America’s enduring commitment to tackling climate change, ensuring a clean energy future, and upholding the Paris Agreement. The coalition aims to show the international community that the American people are still committed to combating climate change and other countries should not abandon their efforts. The coalition is also striving to have the US meet its Paris promises, even without leadership from the federal government. This unprecedented network of networks represents more than 160 million Americans and $6.2 trillion of the U.S. economy, and is the largest cross-section of local leaders in support of climate action in the United States. We Are Still In is a powerful vehicle for change.
In addition to being part of an important effort to combat climate change, joining We Are Still In can be helpful to your congregation. While many congregations do incredible greening work, there often isn’t a connection between their direct greening efforts and more systemic change. We Are Still In can help bridge the gap between your congregation’s greening work and non-partisan environmental political activity by framing your greening work in terms of a larger climate change agenda.
We Are Still In can also help elevate the role of environmentalism in your congregation. We Are Still In can support you in building – or strengthening – your environmental justice team and recruiting new leaders. Furthermore, by joining We Are Still In can you can put your congregational environmental work in the context of a larger Reform and American effort to save our climate and create opportunities for deep partnership with other groups committed to fighting climate change.
To join We Are Still In, your congregation will need to sign on to the declaration, indicating your synagogue supports the goals of the Paris Agreement. Once your congregation has signed on, we hope that you take action to realize your commitment to Paris and help us reach our promise. Your congregation can promote conservation in liturgy and sermons, engage in climate advocacy, reduce the climate impact of your transportation, increase your use of renewable power, commit to understanding and reducing your greenhouse gas emissions, or integrate climate change into portfolio analyses and decision-making.
The RAC is able to help you implement these pledges if your congregation is ready to make a change, but not sure how to start. We are very excited to see our Movement dive in to this exciting coalition and join the millions of others that say We Are Still In, and we stand against catastrophic climate change.
Jonah Baskin is an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
This blog originally appeared on the RAC's blog.