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Background and Rationale for “Code Red for Humanity”: Pass Bold Climate Legislation Alert

Background and Rationale for “Code Red for Humanity”: Pass Bold Climate Legislation Alert

What’s happening?

This spring, in an effort to fight climate change and address much needed infrastructure updates the Biden administration rolled out their $2 trillion American Jobs Plan. The plan would invest in energy efficient buildings, transit, electric vehicles, a cleaner energy grid, and projects to increase resilience in regions that will be most impacted by climate change. In addition to climate spending, the bill also laid out a budget to clean up environmental degradation that continues to cause health issues, especially in lower income communities.

Since the legislation needs 60 votes to pass through the Senate without filibuster reform, bipartisan negotiations slimmed the proposal down to $1.2 trillion with most of the cuts coming from climate change related projects. 

With the passing of this compromise, the expectation is that additional legislation with climate change-related elements would be included in a separate budget package.

What We Believe

As we look at the harm caused by climate change, two matters of faith in particular drive us: caring for creation and caring about those of us who are on the front lines of climate change impacts. Scripture reminds us that we are to care for creation and steward of all that God has given us. We don’t own the earth; we’re called to take care of it as a representation of our Creator. (Matt. 25:14-30).

In the last two years we’ve seen record heat waves, wildfires, storms, southern cold spells, floods, and droughts and the science is clear that without radical change the impacts of climate change will only get worse. As people of faith, we’re called to care for creation and shine a light on these dangers, to lead by example and to be a persistent hopeful voice for change. It’s up to us to cast a vision of living in harmony with God’s creation, and to live accordingly.

The Ask

  • That Senators vote in favor of additional budget legislation that will rapidly draw down greenhouse gas emissions, and put the U.S. on the path towards limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This can be accomplished by supporting the new Clean Electricity Program, manufacturing, and transportation tax incentives and grants, funding for a Civilian Climate Corps, consumer rebates for home electrification and weatherization, among other climate provisions.

  • That Senators support robust environmental justice spending to replace outdated infrastructure, such as lead pipes, clean up toxic environments, such as brownfield sites and methane-spewing oil wells, and improve the quality of life for all those who’ve been harmed by pollutants.

  • That Senators recognize the extreme emergency facing us and future generations and not let filibuster rules stand in the way of much needed climate action.           

What has the CRCNA said about this issue?

In 2010, the synod of the CRC instructed that a task force be formed to study and present a Reformed perspective of creation stewardship, including the issue of climate change. In 2012, the Creation Stewardship Task Force presented its findings in the Creation Stewardship Task Force Report (read the summary here). Synod 2012 responded by affirming its findings and adopting its recommendations, thereby becoming one of the first evangelical denominations in the United States to affirm the scientific consensus on climate change, calling it a "moral, religious, and social justice issue," and calling its denominational bodies, congregations, and individual members to private and public action.

Below is Synod 2012's statement, along with its recommendations to the denomination, churches, and its members:

Approved by Synod on June 13 and 14, 2012


  1. It is the current near-consensus of the international scientific community that climate change is occurring and is very likely due to human activity

  2. Human-induced climate change is an ethical, social justice, and religious issue

  3. Grounds:

    1. Such climate change poses a significant threat to future generations, the poor, and the vulnerable

    2. Such climate change poses a significant challenge to us all

    3. We are called to “commit ourselves to honor all God’s creatures and to protect them from abuse and extinction, for our world belongs to God” (Contemporary Testimony, par. 51)

  4. Therefore, even when scientific uncertainties are taken into account, the precautionary principle (e.g., Overture 60, Agenda for Synod 2012, p. 594) compels us to take private and public actions to address climate change.

The second edition of Our World Belongs to God, approved by Synod in 2008, expresses our faith within the heritage of the Reformed confessions, especially addressing issues that confront the church today. Article 51 of the statement speaks directly to the degradation of creation that has happened as a result of the ways in which humans interact with creation.

51. We lament that our abuse of creation

has brought lasting damage

to the world we have been given:

polluting streams and soil,

poisoning the air,

altering the climate,

and damaging the earth.

We commit ourselves

to honor all God’s creatures

and to protect them from abuse and extinction,

for our world belongs to God.

How does this fit with the mandate of the Office of Social Justice?

 The Office of Social Justice is mandated to “encourage and assist the CRCNA—its leaders, agencies, institutions, and members—to better ‘live justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God’ (Mic. 6:8). It focuses primarily on the systemic causes of poverty, hunger, and powerlessness, as well as those social injustices to which synod or the Board of Trustees (BOT) has directed it. . . raising the voice of the CRCNA in advocacy for and with those who suffer injustice, through action alerts to our members, participation in advocacy coalitions, and public statements when appropriate.” 

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