In the lead-up to Earth Day (22 April 2007), humanitarian agency Church World Service (CWS) and the National Council of Churches USA (NCCUSA) are hailing the recent US Supreme Court ruling that the Environmental Protection Agency has the power to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, saying they hope the landmark decision will drive definitive US regulatory action and propel more state initiatives to tackle global warming.
In September 2006 Church World Service joined with NCCUSA and the National Catholic Rural Life Conference (NCRLC) as 'friends of the court' in supporting the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in its precedent-setting action against the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The Rev John L. McCullough, Executive Director and CEO of the New York-headquartered Church World Service, says the global agency "intends to continue the momentum beyond the court ruling, beyond Earth Day, and for as long as it takes."
This year, Earth Day organizers have issued "A Call to Action on Climate Change."
Part of the task, McCullough says, is to focus on the world's water resources. Church World Service and the Political Science Department of Pace University, New York City, will co-sponsor a one-day 'Thirst for Life' conference on 27 April 2007 at Pace. The conference, featuring Frederik Pischke of the UN Water Secretariat, is being organised in conjunction with the United Nations' International Decade for Action: Water for Life.
CWS Director of Education and Advocacy Rajyashri Waghray points out that in addition to all the other issues around climate change, water for drinking and household use must be an important part of the discussion. "A key strategy," Waghray explains, "for reducing the impact of global warming on vulnerable and marginalized populations, such as shortages of fresh water, is to provide access to safe, affordable water for all."
Waghray has been in London to participate in a conference, sponsored by the World Council of Churches and hosted by Christian Aid, which has been examineing faith community participation in a proposed campaign on climate change.
Through its 'Water for Life' programme, CWS works with local partners to provide clean, safe water, an ecumenical voice in the global debate on water and sanitation issues, and to build grassroots support for congressional legislation that supports universal access to water worldwide.
"The impact of climate change, environmental degradation and water scarcity arenât just of concern for the poor in the global south," says CWS' McCullough. "We are all at risk. We are all responsible."
He adds: "We hope that by Earth Day 2012, at the expiration of the Kyoto Protocols, the US and the world will have taken significant strides in slowing the planetâs race toward an alarming future- and that people will remember what may become the most important judicial ruling of our generation."
For more information on Church World Service environmental justice and Water for Life advocacy, see: