This year’s Public Policy Weekend in the Diocese of Rochester took place Feb. 2-3, when parishioners were asked to sign petitions encouraging their state legislators to take immediate action regarding global climate change.
Global climate change is an issue all Catholics should be concerned about, regardless of their own personal feelings and beliefs about the validity or seriousness of the issue, according to Father Brian Cool, chairperson of the diocesan Public Policy Committee and Catholic chaplain at the University of Rochester.
“There are plenty of people who believe this is not an issue or it is not as severe as some may believe,” Father Cool wrote in an e-mail interview with the Catholic Courier. “Yet I really don’t think anyone can argue with the fact that we as Catholic Christians are stewards of the earth, and as such we have plenty of opportunities to become better stewards.”
Becoming a better steward and taking good care of the earth means taking precautionary measures to slow or prevent developments — such as global climate change — that have the potential to harm the earth and its citizens, Father Cool maintained.
Parishioners were asked to embrace their call to stewardship by signing the petitions about global climate change, which was this year’s advocacy issue.
New York produces more carbon-dioxide pollution than 99 developing countries combined, according to materials distributed by the Public Policy Committee. Under the new Northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which will take effect in 2009, power plants in the Northeast — including New York — will be required to reduce their carbon-dioxide emissions and pay a fee for any pollution in the form of greenhouse gases that they still release. These fees will provide a new source of income for New York, but the state government has not yet determined how the income will be used, according to materials distributed by the Public Policy Committee.
The petitions circulated during Public Policy Weekend encouraged state leaders to use this income to foster energy efficiency and conservation efforts, fund renewable-energy initiatives, and help poor and low-income New Yorkers pay their utility costs.
EDITOR’S NOTE: To read the information distributed by the Public Policy Committee, visit the diocesan Web site and type “Public Policy Weekend” into the search box.