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CEDAR RAPIDS — Sen. Rob Hogg will be splitting his attention Thursday between a special session of the Iowa Legislature and a climate conference halfway around the world.
While the Iowa lawmakers are considering new maps that will influence politics in the state for a decade, Hogg will be among those considering policies that will affect climate — and humankind — for much longer.
Hogg, 54, a Cedar Rapids Democratic, is among 24 U.S. delegates who will represent the Episcopal Church at the United Nations 26th Conference of Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, also known as “COP26.”
Hogg, who attends Christ Episcopal Church in Cedar Rapids, and the other delegates will participate virtually rather than travel to Glasgow, Scotland, where conferees will meet Oct. 28 to Nov. 12.
Hogg is unsure of the mechanics of his participation other than the six-hour time difference means many of the sessions will be starting at 4 a.m. for him.
Regardless of the timing, Hogg’s efforts will be in line with the goal of “increasing ambition.”
The Episcopal Church is calling for justice for the world’s poorest peoples “who suffer the greatest consequences of climate change and contribute the least to causing the problem,” Hogg said.
They also are calling for justice for people working in fossil fuel industries whose jobs will be displaced by the transition to cleaner energy.
Faith communities “have a strong calling to care for God’s creation and God’s children,” Hogg said.
The faith community, which already helps mitigate the physical and emotional trauma of disasters related to global warming, is seeking a larger role in addressing the impact of climate change.
Hogg is no stranger to the issue.
He authored a 2013 book, “America's Climate Century: What Climate Change Means for America in the 21st Century and What Americans Can Do about It.” He called climate change the defining issue of the 21st Century and challenged Americans to make the fight against it their national purpose.
He wrote about cultural and faith issues involved in addressing climate change but focused on the role of Congress.
“Since then, (Congress) hasn’t done much, and it’s done some bad things,” Hogg said.
“The political system hasn’t fully grasped the full effort science and the faith community believe is necessary,” Hogg said.
The faith community offers the potential for a deeper transformation that is not only political, but cultural.
“We need to come to grips with the magnitude of the problem,” he said. “That doesn’t happen without the faith community.”
Representing a faith community in the global discussion is not a repudiation of politics, Hogg said, but a recognition of its limits.
“We desperately need congressional action, but by itself, that isn’t enough,” he said. “This has to be something Americans want.”
As someone who has held political office since 2003, Hogg believes it will take more than the political system to address global climate change issues.
He sees his participation in COP26 as a “unique way to serve the church in deepening our commitment to addressing climate change.”
“It’s a moment to go deeper, to think about the long-term future of the world,” Hogg said.
The conference will not be the end of the discussion.
“This is a challenge for a lifetime,” Hogg said. “We’re up against the clock, and we need to find the will to do things most people understand we need to do.”
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