Congressman John Garamendi

Representing the 3rd District of California
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Garamendi Statement on Pope Francis Climate Change Encyclical

June 18, 2015
Press Release

Today, Congressman John Garamendi (CA-03) joined his colleagues on the Safe Climate Caucus in commending his Holiness Pope Francis for his Encyclical formally and powerfully calling for action to address the climate crisis.

Garamendi said, “I thank his Holiness Pope Francis for his leadership on this urgent matter. The Pope addresses his encyclical to ‘every person living on this planet,’ because climate change affects us all and everyone has an obligation to help address this crisis. Scientists have reached an overwhelming consensus that humans are primarily responsible for climate change. They also warn of unacceptably high risks to humanity, including more extreme weather such as droughts, floods, and hurricanes, expanded outbreaks of tropical diseases, and massive disruptions to our sources of food and water. The good news is that we can rise to this challenge through innovation, advocacy, and smart public policy. We are morally compelled to act.”

When he was Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Garamendi helped draft America’s position during the Kyoto Protocol climate change negotiations.

The Safe Climate Caucus’s press release is included immediately below.

Today, House Safe Climate Caucus (SCC) members released a statement of appreciation in response to Pope Francis’s Encyclical entitled “Laudato Si,” a formal letter addressed to “every person living on the planet” concerning the moral responsibility to care for the earth and act on climate change.

“We commend Pope Francis for bringing urgent attention to ‘one of the principle challenges facing humanity in our day,’ and we agree with the Pope that ‘[a] very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system’.

This encyclical encourages us all to contemplate the ways we as individuals and as a society are polluting the earth and creating injustice throughout the world because of consumerism.  This should make us all uncomfortable and urge us to action, regardless of which side of the aisle we stand.  We all share a moral responsibility as global citizens to care for the earth and to recognize the ways our actions are affecting the world. These principles of moral concern expressed by the Pope for the earth and for all people are found in faiths across the globe, as well as with people who have no faith background. 

Human lives are intricately connected to the environment.  In the encyclical, Pope Francis writes, ‘We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental.  Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.’

The great inequity of climate change is that those nations who have historically contributed the least greenhouse gases are those who will be the most exposed to climate change and the least able to respond and adapt. In the Pope’s words, ‘[r]educing greenhouse gases requires honesty, courage and responsibility, above all on the part of those countries which are more powerful and pollute the most’.

Unfortunately, Congress has not yet acted on this humanitarian problem, and the United States remains one of the top emitters of greenhouse gases. 

Therefore, we in the House Safe Climate Caucus have been committed bringing forward solutions to climate change in the U.S. Congress that include phasing out fossil fuel consumption and replacing it with renewable energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and assisting the poor both in our country and abroad in transitioning to a clean economy.    We hope that more members of Congress, from both sides of the aisle, will join us in this effort.”

Nineteen Safe Climate Caucus members released statements on the Pope’s encyclical:

SCC Chair Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), “I thank the Pope for his continued leadership in bringing global attention to the plight of the world’s poor and vulnerable because of environmental harms nations like ours have committed. When it comes to climate change, the science is settled. It’s up to the world’s leaders to take the science to heart, understand the impacts of climate change as a humanitarian issue, and act: this is exactly what Pope Francis has done with his call for recognition and action. Climate change knows no geographic, political, ethnic, or religious barriers.  It affects all people.  As a nation we have a responsibility, not just to our own citizens, but to our fellow travelers on this delicate blue sphere we call home. We must act to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and put an end to unneeded suffering because of climate change before it gets any worse."

Paul Tonko (NY-20): “Pope Francis frames the reality of climate change in a way that we must consider if we are to protect our environment for future generations, future economic development, and future progress. It is a moral imperative to act as a good steward of the environment and the gifts we have been given. I thank the Pope and I hope his encyclical will ring true with all of us, including those that deny climate change both in Congress and around the world.”

Matt Cartwright (PA-17): “I welcome the Pope’s encyclical on the need for the world to address climate change.  I share the Pope’s belief that we should all be good stewards of God’s creation, preserve it for future generations, and care for our vulnerable brothers and sisters.  That’s why I believe the federal government should adopt policies to address climate change and better plan for its effects, recognizing that the poor and vulnerable people will suffer disproportionately.”

Scott Peters (CA-52): “Being a person of faith should come in tandem with a desire to act on climate change. We must be good stewards of our planet, God’s creation, for our children and grandchildren.”

Ted Lieu (CA-33): As a Catholic, a Veteran, an officer in the Air Force reserves, and a Californian who was elected to the United States Congress to help tackle climate change, I am inspired by Pope Francis’s position on climate.  Pope Francis has courageously stood up not only for the earth and the environment, but the poorest and most vulnerable among us who are most affected by climate change.  I look forward to personally thanking Pope Francis for his leadership on this issue when he comes to Capitol Hill in September. 

Chris Van Hollen (MD-08): “I welcome Pope Francis’ overture to people of all nations and faiths to unite behind the effort to combat climate change. As one of humanity’s greatest collective challenges, addressing climate change requires a global effort with strong leadership. The dangerous impacts of climate change disproportionately fall on the shoulders of vulnerable populations who are least empowered to prepare and act. Pope Francis rightly points out that those who are fortunate enough to be in the position to act should feel morally compelled to do so. The gridlock in Congress has made action on this critical issue difficult, but I applaud President Obama for forging ahead where possible.  The United States must lead on this issue. I’ve offered legislation that would achieve necessary greenhouse gas reductions while boosting the purchasing power of families across the country. Partisan politics must not stand in the way of protecting future generations. Our climate is in crisis, and the Pope’s voice adds significant weight to the consensus that we must act quickly to mitigate the threat.”

Jared Huffman (CA-02): “His Holiness is right: climate change isn't just a scientific issue, it's a moral imperative that we must address. Our future depends on our actions today, and I hope that the Pope's comments spur meaningful change in Congress and throughout the world.”

Earl Blumenauer (OR-03): “For years the science on climate change has been clear - the climate is changing because of human activity. The challenge of climate change is not just a matter of scientific consensus or political debate, it is a challenge that we must embrace fully as a moral responsibility. This is about responsibility to the fellow creatures that share our planet, to the more vulnerable human populations who contribute the least to climate change but will suffer the most, and to our children and future generations. The Pope's encyclical released today adds a profound dimension to the conversation that I hope will inspire all individuals and governments to redouble their efforts to meet this challenge head on.”

Raul Grijalva (AZ- 03): “Pope Francis’ call for action, reflection and honesty transcends politics and shouldn’t be treated as just another piece of the partisan news cycle,” Natural Resources Commmittee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva said. “It should be heeded and taken to heart, especially by those who profit from environmental damage and human suffering. Our actions and inactions have damaged the lives of billions of people, especially those who have little political or economic power to defend themselves, and Pope Francis is right to put the focus on them. I share his vision of a planet where justice, environmental sustainability and prosperity go hand in hand, and I am encouraged to see that vision resonate so powerfully around the world today. We are reminded that this year offers what may be our last best hope for a world climate agreement. If all of us – including my friends in Congress – truly consider the moral dimension of the damage we are doing to our planet and its people, and act on that consideration, the many millions of our brothers and sisters who take heart from today’s message will not take heart in vain.”

Mark Pocan (WI-02): “I commend Pope Francis for taking a strong stance on the pressing issue of climate change,” said Rep. Mark Pocan. “That he would use the singular power of his voice to call world leaders to address climate change is heartening and should serve as a wake up call to Congress. We must take action to combat climate change, not only for this country, but the entire planet.”

Barbara Lee (CA-13): “The Pope’s encyclical is another important step in the global effort to address climate change and empower the world’s most vulnerable. It is incumbent on each of us to pass a healthy, thriving planet on to our children and our grandchildren.”

Donna Edwards (MD- 04): “I welcome Pope Francis’ Laudato Si encyclical for its thoughtful and forceful commitment to saving our planet for future generations.  As a member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, I have long said that the science of climate change is a settled matter.  The Pope rightfully points out that global warming is real, that it is at least partially the result of human activity through the use of fossil fuels, and that the impacts of climate change will unduly impact low-income communities.  He also strongly and eloquently frames this as a moral issue for the world that must be immediately addressed by all people and all countries. I agree that governments must act on climate change in a real and profound way and developed countries should be leading this effort.  I am hopeful that the Pope’s ability to place climate change in the larger context of the disconnect between humans and their natural environment will allow us to move beyond denial of the science. We must have a true debate on how to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and protect our earth for future generations.”

Bobby Rush (IL-01): Pope Francis has asked that all humankind be good and responsible stewards of our home, planet Earth. I fully endorse what the Pope said and the purpose for why he published this encyclical. His call should inspire all of us to corrective action to save our planet.

Lois Capps (CA-24):  “I commend Pope Francis for his call to action on the moral imperative of combatting climate change, which is the greatest challenge of our time. We have an obligation to act now to protect our planet for future generations, not only for our health and the environment, but for our economy as well. The cost of continued inaction is too high.”

John Garamendi (CA-03): “I thank his Holiness Pope Francis for his leadership on this urgent matter. The Pope addresses his encyclical to ‘every person living on this planet,’ because climate change affects us all and everyone has an obligation to help address this crisis. Scientists have reached an overwhelming consensus that humans are primarily responsible for climate change. They also warn of unacceptably high risks to humanity, including more extreme weather such as droughts, floods, and hurricanes, expanded outbreaks of tropical diseases, and massive disruptions to our sources of food and water. The good news is that we can rise to this challenge through innovation, advocacy, and smart public policy. We are morally compelled to act.”

Jan Schakowsky (IL-09): “I thank Pope Francis for his consistent commitment to the least fortunate around the world.  The Encyclical rightly focuses on the threat of climate change – the most urgent crisis facing our world today.  The almost 3 billion people around the world living on less than $2 per day – the same people the Pope has always put first in his teachings and actions – face the worst consequences of climate change: drought, hunger, displacement, and armed conflict.  Wealthy countries and multinational corporations must take the lead in reducing harmful emissions and transitioning to clean renewable energy sources.  I will continue to work to ensure that the United States heeds the Pope’s advice and addresses this challenge head-on.”

Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6): “Climate change is a moral issue, and one that we cannot wait to address.  Pope Francis’ unequivocal call to action is inspiring and should be taken to heart.  We have a common responsibility to act to protect and more properly care for our unique and living planet.”

Katherine Clark (MA-5): “I’m hopeful that the Pope’s call for action will inspire leaders in our global community to come together to reduce greenhouse gases and protect the future of our planet.”  

Peter Welch (VT-At Large)  posted a video response.