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Religious Leaders Urge Action on Climate Change

A coalition of religious leaders urged Congress on Wednesday to ensure that the poor and most vulnerable are protected from the effects of climate change.

The appeals comes as lawmakers in the coming months plan to consider legislation that would combat global warming.

The representatives from groups such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Association of Evangelicals, National Council of Churches and the Union for Reform Judaism said Congress should require a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

A compromise bill proposed by Sens. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, and John Warner, R-Va., was expected to advance from a Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee on Thursday.

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The religious leaders planned to press the bill's sponsors "to strengthen and improve protections for the poor and vulnerable as (the) legislation moves forward," said Paul Gorman, executive director of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment.

The church leaders, in a conference call with reporters, outlined their priorities for the legislation. They include helping low-income families deal with the impact of higher energy prices that result from new climate policies and making sure that vulnerable people are shielded from the environmental effects of global warming.

The group said it will seek to have 40 percent of the emissions-related revenues from climate change legislation directed to help such people. The Lieberman-Warner bill calls for a 5 percent allocation for such purposes.

"While not all of us agree on much," said the Rev. Michael Livingston, president of the National Council of Churches, "we do agree on the need to protect God's creation. It has become clear that global warming will have devastating impact on those in poverty around the world."

The Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, said 84 percent of evangelicals support mandatory limits on greenhouse gases. He said it is not a matter of political persuasion but "of moral leadership."

Added Bishop Thomas Wenksi of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: "Those who contribute least to the problem are likely to suffer the most."