INDIANAPOLIS — Priests, imams, rabbis and reverends gathered together at the Indiana Statehouse on Friday to deliver a message to Gov. Eric Holcomb on combating climate change and prioritizing a “just transition” to cleaner energy.
The delivery of the petition, signed by nearly 800 Hoosiers, coincided with the final day of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
“Our call to address this issue cannot be delayed as governments across the globe have spent the past few days announcing their pledges and commitment to climate change,” said the Rev. Dr. Carlos W. Perkins, pastor of Indianapolis’ Bethel Cathedral African Methodist Episcopal Church. “It is time we make our own pledge.”
According to Purdue University, climate change directly impacts Indiana’s corn production with hot weather and drought stress potentially reducing corn yields by 12% or more in the coming decades.
“Human activities in Indiana emitted 192 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2018,” the school’s Agriculture News reported. “Indiana had the eighth-highest emissions of carbon dioxide of any state that year despite being ranked only 17th in population.”
Indiana’s coal and gas plants used for generating electricity contribute the most to Indiana’s carbon dioxide emissions followed by transportation.
Rabbi Brian Besser, leading the Congregation Beth Shalom in Bloomington, described a story in the Talmud, a Jewish religious text, which details passengers on a boat. One passenger begins drilling under his seat, alarming fellow passengers who fear sinking and demonstrating how the actions of one can affect many.
“I sign this petition because my faith tradition teaches that we are all in the same boat together,” Besser said. “Each one of us is responsible for the home we share.”
Interfaith leaders promoted proposed legislation to create a climate change task force and urged elected officials to signify their recognition of the crisis through a resolution. Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, announced in September that he would sponsor both pieces of legislation written by youth activists with Confront the Climate Crisis.
“We are calling on our governor and legislators to finally address decisively the climate crisis in the coming legislative session,” said T. Wyatt Watkins, a pastor at Cumberland First Baptist Church.
“We ask the legislature to declare climate change not only a looming threat but a present and current reality and appoint a task force to develop a climate plan, a mitigation plan, a resilience plan and an energy plan that will allow us to transition to a sustainable energy future here in Indiana.”