A Congressional Push For Environmental Policy By Senator Markey

Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, BC ’68, Law ’72, spoke to an audience of about 200 people this past Monday in the Murray Room in Yawkey Center. In his talk, he emphasized the need for the United States to lead the way toward global climate change.

This was the first of a series of talks hosted as part of Our Common Home, a conference addressing Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change. The events are meant to educate the campus community about the harm climate change does to the Earth.

Part of the encyclical included a discussion on the importance of fixing environmental decline. This week’s events follow the Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S., during which he spoke more about his view on climate change.

Markey spoke about his own experience after being given the opportunity to listen to the pope last week. On Friday, he was invited to the United Nations by U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power.

“She called me and invited me to sit next to her,” Markey said. “Pope Francis’ encyclical basically, in summary, reaches five conclusions. One: the earth is dangerously warming. Two: human activities are largely the cause. Three: the poorest people on the planet are most adversely affected by what are largely the actions of the wealthiest planners on Earth. Four: we have a moral responsibility to act. And five: individually and collectively, we must take action to address climate change … And do so soon.”
Markey, a Democrat, found the encyclical important, and has displayed his prioritization of addressing the issue of global warming by pushing to pass the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and collaborating on several bills that will increase funding to help the cause. He also sits on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and the Committee on Environment and Public Works. He is a member of many other subcommittees that are tackling different areas related to environmental protection.

Throughout his talk, Markey continued to come back to one word: leadership. He has worked to fight for environmental issues in Congress for 39 years because the U.S. needs to be a world leader in the attempt to save the environment, he said. He connected this mission back to Pope Francis’ encouragement of the U.S.government to use its power to show other countries how they can be more environmentally friendly, as well.

“We can do it,” Markey said. “We have to lead, and the rest of the world will follow us.”

According to Markey, other countries have already started to follow the U.S. in preparation for the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris thwis December. Nations like China, Brazil, and India, as well as the European Union have already released information about their goals to become more efficient and take advantage of opportunities for renewable energy.

Markey also recognized another prominent figure in the Catholic Church’s battle against climate change: Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, who spoke at the conference later in the day.

“President [John F.] Kennedy called upon us to really do God’s work here on Earth,” Markey said on Monday. “Cardinal Turkson and Pope Francis are doing it.”

Markey admitted his own bias to the Catholic Church and, specifically, the Jesuits, as he revealed to the audience that he is a graduate of both BC and BC Law School.

“You know, sometimes, and the Jesuits are like this … Sometimes you could be right, but [it’s] too soon,” Markey said, referencing the political barriers between opposing parties in Congress. “You have to wait for people to catch up. And that’s what this battle is all about politically.”

After he finished answering questions, Markey took a moment to introduce John P. Holdren, the assistant to the president for Science and Technology, who followed up with some more scientific evidence behind the claims of global warming. Despite a hoarse voice, Holdren presented the more concrete reasoning that scientists have for asserting that humans are the driving force behind the increase in temperature on Earth. Humans are changing the earth, he said, not the sun.

“We can be, and have to be the leader to make this change,” Markey said.

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