140 Jewish leaders vow to help US reach Paris climate accord goals


(JTA) — Over 140 Jewish organizational leaders signed a letter encouraging Jewish institutions across the U.S. to support the goals of the Paris climate accord.

“We call upon all Jewish federations, JCCs, synagogues, camps, day schools, Jewish organizations, leaders, businesses, and community members to identify ways in which we, the organized and powerful American Jewish community, can and must respond to this climate crisis,” read the letter, which was released Thursday by the nonprofit Hazon and the Pearlstone Center.

The letter calls for Jewish leaders to commit their organizations to the specific goals laid out in the Paris Agreement, which include lowering carbon emissions by at least 26 percent over the next seven years; ensuring their institutions have teams of employees focused on sustainability, and encouraging their employees to “live more lightly,” or use more renewable energy and produce less harmful emissions in their daily lives.

The letter’s signees include Steven Wernick, CEO of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism; Robert Bank, president and CEO of the American Jewish World Service; Cheryl Cook, the executive director of Avodah, and Sharon Alpert, president and CEO of the Nathan Cummings Foundation.

“As Jews, we are also proud of our long history of economic innovation and entrepreneurship, so we are baffled by the false premise that withdrawing from the Paris Accords somehow prioritizes American jobs,” the letter reads. “On the contrary, our 21st century economy is driven by new energy technologies and our solar sector already far surpasses coal.”

President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the landmark 2015 agreement to fight climate change, saying the U.S. obligations under the accord hurt American business and that it is “very unfair at the highest level to the United States.” Syria and Nicaragua were the only countries not to sign the accord.

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