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Tandem Friends School students in the U.S. Capitol Building

When I first walked through FCNL’s doors, a 2013 college graduate filled with zeal to change the world, I knew a few things. First, I was passionate about climate change and environmental issues. Second, I wanted to enact structural change to address the problem and was eager to see how lobbying and advocacy could make a difference.

What I didn’t know was how huge a task this would be. There were no Republicans in Congress publicly talking about climate change. Yet I firmly believed that FCNL’s assessment of the problem was accurate: without bipartisan congressional action on climate change, the U.S. could not fully address the problem.

The United States has to be an active participant in international efforts in order to reduce greenhouse gases. It was clear that FCNL needed to cultivate the space for bipartisan dialogue on climate change in Congress, if we wanted even a chance at passing legislation.

Since then, I can’t overstate how much the political landscape has shifted. We’ve helped members of Congress take meaningful action on climate change. This took years of persistent work by FCNL’s network, building relationships and seeking that of God in each legislator. We still have a long way to go but a few moments were key to this political shift.

This took years of persistent work by FCNL’s network, building relationships and seeking that of God in each legislator.

In 2019, we saw a surge of youth activism worldwide, demanding a response from our leaders to match the scale of the crisis. Greta Thunberg’s weekly school strike activated millions. Inspired by the Sunrise Movement, legislators drafted the ambitious Green New Deal.

It is also getting harder to ignore the effects of climate change as it wreaks havoc in the United States and worldwide. Elected officials from both parties are witnessing the people they represent experience harm—from the torrential flooding in Nebraska to the wildfires in California.

Members of Congress are responding. There is now a bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in both the House and Senate that are building trust across the aisle. There are seven carbon pricing bills in Congress, four of which have bipartisan support.

These bills seek to shift our economy towards cleaner energy sources. To varying degrees, they seek to ensure that low-income families and other vulnerable communities are not harmed by the policy.

As new bills are drafted, we analyze them using our interfaith carbon pricing principles, centered on justice, human dignity, and dialogue. “The principles are rooted in the practice of emphasizing our common values in order to advance cooperation and overcome partisanship at both the national and international levels.” Democrats are drafting ambitious legislation that will provide a roadmap for how to address the problem, through frameworks established by the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and other congressional committees.

Members of Congress are finally realizing their obligation to future generations.

House Republican leaders now acknowledge the need to address climate change and have proposed their own solutions, including planting one trillion trees. While their solutions don’t go far enough, it’s important that they are now officially engaging as a party.

Members of Congress are finally realizing their obligation to future generations. When Chris Coons (DE) asked Mike Braun (IN) to establish the bipartisan Senate Climate Solutions Caucus with him, Sen. Braun’s answer left a lasting impression. “His answer was rooted in his kids and grandkids and the passion they have for being engaged in trying to tackle this multigenerational issue,” said Sen. Coons.

May our concern for our children and grandchildren motivate us to keep advancing climate solutions.

Emily Wirzba

Emily Wirzba

Former Legislative Manager, Sustainable Energy and Environment

Emily Wirzba led FCNL’s lobbying work to achieve bipartisan recognition of climate change and action in Congress. She served as co-chair of the Washington Interreligious Staff Community’s Energy and Ecology Working Group.