Religious Americans Demand Climate Action
President Joe Biden has pursued a bold agenda to address the climate crisis. On his first day in office, he had the United States rejoin the Paris climate agreement. A week later, he signed an executive order to “Tackle the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.” On Earth Day, April 22, he convened world leaders to address the urgent need for collective action on the climate crisis. During that summit, he announced that the United States will target reducing planet-warming emissions by 50 percent to 52 percent across the economy by 2030 compared with 2005 levels. The Biden administration also proposed the American Jobs Plan, part of the administration’s economic recovery proposals that includes historic investments in climate action through infrastructure that would create good-paying jobs while making the American economy more equitable and sustainable. These positive actions have been well-received by religious leaders, who continue to call for bold action in defense of God’s creation.
Pope Francis, who attended the Earth Day summit, encouraged the leaders of the world’s largest economies to “take charge of the care of nature, of this gift that we have received and that we have to heal, guard, and carry forward.” These words are increasingly significant because of the challenge the world faces in the postpandemic era. As the pope said, “We need to keep moving forward and we know that one doesn’t come out of a crisis the same way one entered. We come out either better or worse. Our concern is to see that the environment is cleaner, purer, and preserved. We must take care of nature so that it takes care of us.”
The majority of religious Americans share Pope Francis’ and President Biden’s concern for taking urgent action on climate change. Sixty percent of Christians and 79 percent of Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims believe that “passing a bill to address climate change and its effects” should be a top or an important priority for Congress, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll conducted in April 2021. The broad support for Congress to take action on the climate crisis includes 57 percent of evangelical Americans, who tend to be the most conservative of the United States’ religious blocs.
These findings are mirrored in another national survey. According to a Climate Nexus poll, the majority of religious voters think that “passing a comprehensive bill to address climate change” this year should be a top or an important priority for Congress and the president. This includes 84 percent of Black Protestants, 81 percent of non-Christian faith groups, 64 percent of white Catholics, 58 percent of white mainline Protestants, and 53 percent of white evangelical Protestants. The majority of religious voters also support Congress passing legislation that would set the goal of achieving a 100 percent clean U.S. economy—which entails eliminating fossil fuel emissions from the transportation, electricity, building, industry, and agricultural sectors—by 2050. This includes 88 percent of Black Protestants; 76 percent of non-Christian religious groups; 61 percent of white Catholics, 53 percent of white mainline Protestants; and 50 percent of white evangelical Protestants.
The fact that climate change is happening as a result of human activities is indisputable. And while climate denial may be profitable for elected officials who receive support from the fossil fuel industry, polling shows that there is broad consensus among religious Americans that the world is facing a climate crisis. Majorities in every major religious group believe the truth that climate change is happening, according to the Public Religion Research Institute. Majorities in every religious group—with the exception of white evangelical Protestants—also believe climate change is caused by humans.
Calling for climate-ready infrastructure
Against this backdrop of widespread faith community support for action, faith…
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