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Pope Says Climate Issues Can't Wait: Do NY Lawmakers Get Message?

Pope Francis used a visit to the White House to say climate change is an issue that can't wait. Green groups in New York wonder whether lawmakers at the state and federal level are getting that message. Courtesy: White House Government Photo
Pope Francis used a visit to the White House to say climate change is an issue that can't wait. Green groups in New York wonder whether lawmakers at the state and federal level are getting that message. Courtesy: White House Government Photo
September 24, 2015

NEW YORK - In his first-ever visit to the White House, Pope Francis on Wednesday declared climate change is a problem that can no longer be left to future generations.

But some wonder if New York lawmakers are getting the message. Peter Iwanowicz, executive director with Environmental Advocates of New York, applauds the pope's stand that there is a moral obligation to address the issue.

His group has concerns as to whether state and federal lawmakers are acting quickly enough to address climate change. Iwanowicz says if lawmakers want to show they are serious, they will take action to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050.

"Are they willing to put climate commitments, pollution-reduction commitments, funding commitments into law this year," he says. "To make sure the message of the pope and the will of the people to have action on climate is put into law once and for all."

Iwanowicz says lawmakers also need to commit to generating half of energy needs from renewable sources by the year 2030, and he hopes the pope's visit will build momentum to that end.

The pope's comments about the need to address climate change stand in stark contrast to last week's GOP presidential debate, in which a number of candidates expressed doubt. Iwanowicz says climate denial is not just a fact of life on the campaign trail.

"We also see climate denial being very prominent in some key political figures in New York," he says. "That clearly has to change. New York State is a place where much of that climate science is actually developed, designed and carried out, so we need to take that type science and really put it into public policy."

The pope wrapped up his remarks at the White House by saying when it comes to the care of our common home we are living at a critical time in history.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY