Presiding Bishop responds to Trump’s decision to pull U.S. out of worldwide climate accord

Posted Jun 1, 2017

[Episcopal News Service] President Donald Trump announced June 1 that he would pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, a 2015 pledge to limit climate change signed by 196 nations.

The agreement includes a plan to decrease carbon emissions and limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, and a commitment from wealthier nations to provide $100 billion in aid to developing countries. The agreement is the first-ever binding, international treaty in 20 years of United Nations climate talks.

(Click here for an Episcopal Public Policy Network alert on advocating for environmental appropriations.)

The presiding bishop’s statement follows.

With the announcement by President Donald Trump of his decision to withdraw the commitment made by the United States to the Paris Climate Accord, I am reminded of the words of the old spiritual which speaks of God and God’s creation in these words, “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” The whole world belongs to God, as Psalm 24 teaches us. God’s eye is ever on even the tiny sparrow, as Jesus taught and the song says (Luke 12:6). And we human beings have been charged with being trustees, caretakers, stewards of God’s creation (Genesis 1:26-31).

The United States has been a global leader in caring for God’s creation through efforts over the years on climate change. President Trump’s announcement changes the U.S.’s leadership role in the international sphere. Despite this announcement, many U.S. businesses, states, cities, regions, nongovernmental organizations and faith bodies like the Episcopal Church can continue to take bold action to address the climate crisis.  The phrase, “Were still in,” became a statement of commitment for many of us who regardless of this decision by our President are still committed to the principles of the Paris Agreement.

Faith bodies like the Episcopal Church occupy a unique space in the worldwide climate movement. In the context of the United Nations, the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement, we are an international body representing 17 countries in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia and the Pacific. We also are an admitted observer organization to the UNFCCC process, empowered to bring accredited observers to the UN climate change meetings. Furthermore, the Episcopal Church is a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the third-largest Christian tradition, and we remain committed to ensuring that Anglicans everywhere are empowered to undertake bold action on climate change mitigation and adaptation.

We know that caring for God’s creation by engaging climate change is not only good for the environment, but also good for the health and welfare of our people. The U.S. is currently creating more clean jobs faster than job creation in nearly every other sector of the economy, and unprecedented acceleration in the clean energy sector is also evident in many other major economies.

My prayer is that we in the Episcopal Church will, in this and all things, follow the way, the teachings and the Spirit of Jesus by cultivating a loving, liberating and life-giving relationship with God, all others in the human family, and with all of God’s good creation.

In spite of hardships and setbacks, the work goes on. This is God’s world.  And we are all his children. And, “He’s got the whole world in his hands.”

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church


Comments (88)

  1. Pjcabbiness says:

    I am thankful for the strength and wisdom shown by our President in this matter and saddened by the position that the church has taken in regard to environmental issues.

    1. BP. Raymond Decelles Sawyer, ICAB says:

      I am saddened by anyone who supports President Donald John Trump, where his social justice decisions and climate change issues are concerned. THe wisdom expressed by my Anglican brother in the Catholic episcopate reflects my own. I pray that he and anyone else who puts job over environment is engaging in a deceptive choice.

    2. Tonya Riley says:

      I don’t understand how someone could be sad at trying to take care of our planet. Or, be proud of POTUS trying to further injure it. I just don’t understand that stand.

    3. Carolyn G. Valentine says:

      U are entitled to your opinion. This is still a free country and your freedom to express your opinion is upheld.

    4. Jon Spangler says:

      What about President Trump’s decision makes you thankful?

    5. Robert Biermann says:

      I agree with what you have stated. It seems the The Episcopal Church has ceased worshiping the creator, and rather, worships the creation. Scrpiture is replaced by feelings, or quoted out of context. Every year the Episcopal church descends into obscurity and irreverence. Go ahead, Episcopal Church, continue to worship the planet, celebrate sin and mock God. Why does it matter? Your lampsyand left decades ago, you’re nothing but dead bones in fine vestments.

  2. Julie Kaufman says:

    I’m so happy to see this. Thank you!

  3. Roger Hamilton says:

    Good for Trump … my father was an astronomer who said a few years ago, “The Ice Caps on Mars are melting, so it’s obviously our faults.”

    1. Dianne Smith says:

      What a sadly ignorant comment in this day and age.

      1. Stephen Schaeffer says:

        Yes, I agree and we know there are many more ignorant people who follow this state of mind!

      2. Lynda Strecker says:

        AMEN !

        1. mike geibel says:

          I think we should lower the temperature of some of our comments. Name calling is a sign of intolerance and disrespect.

          Scientists have in fact reported that the southern polar cap on Mars has receded due to “global warming” and we know there are no cars on Mars. However, the rise in temperature is now believed to be attributed to the less stable orbit of Mars.

          I am no scientist, but like the Secretary of Defense, I believe that global warming is real. This is despite the false threat of an impending ice age reported by scientists in the 1970’s, and the Climate-gate scandal that revealed some scientists were “cooking their data” to support the global warming theory.

          I’m just not sure the details of the Paris accord are fair or will work. The issue of how to address the problem is more complex and profound than simplistic “reduce carbon emissions by 26%” and for U.S. taxpayers to pay a wealthy country fine of $100 billion every year, and give billions to China and India. I also find it rather presumptuous that former President Obama would commit to it without vetting and approval by Congress–that is our democratic process.

          Some sources say the accord would result in loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs in the U.S., and that cost of gas will increase by 50 cents to a dollar per gallon. Some scientist admit that even if strictly adhered to, the measures will not stop global warming for the decades to come, if at all.

          In 2009, the TEC adopted the “Genesis Covenant,” an admirable and progressive promise to reduce the carbon footprint of all Church facilities by 50% by the next 10 years. Money was made available via “grants” to install solar and other eco-friendly measures. Members were asked to sign on to a similar personal commitment to reduce their personal carbon footprint by 50%.

          I have not seen ENS or the Leadership issue a report card on the success of the Genesis Covenant with the deadline only 2 years away. Me thinks the economic realities are daunting. But I do agree with Bishop Curry’s message that individually, we should continue to take action to address global warming. I was taught that Jesus told us it is better to lead by example.

          1. Sue Jones says:


          2. Tonya Riley says:


          3. Carolyn G. Valentine says:

            I fully support Presiding Bishop Curry. As Americans, we are still entitled to free speech expressing our individual opinions. In that spirit, I will uphold the right of free speech , freedom of religion and my choice to follow Jesus’s teachings and my right to assemble. I would appreciate all in this body to reaffirm those freedoms for all, for the beauty of the Earth and to the Glory of God.

          4. Dale Schreck says:

            I totally agree with you, Mike. Even during the last 4000 years the earth has warmed and cooled. Man probably didn’t cause those changes.

    2. Jan Nunley+ says:

      This time, look through the right end of the telescope.

  4. Lots of words. I am saddened and not at all impressed that the PB publishes his thoughts on “climate change” so quickly after President Trump’s announcement. Teach the Faith. Every day and in every opportunity. By word and deed, show love to God and neighbour. That’s more than a “full plate” for all clergy. Climate change will show itself in the future to be the “biggest nothingburger ever.” Too many clergy are fixated on it to the detriment of teaching the Faith to their people. And as the years go by, the church slowly shrinks. Pray. Teach. Exhort. Encourage and pray some more.

    “We are the hollow men/We are the stuffed men/Leaning together/Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!”

    1. The Rev Dr Mark Barwick says:

      This IS the faith. Not a religiosphere where we can hide. This is our planet home. We ignore it to our peril.

      1. Tonya Riley says:


    2. MR Scullary says:

      Since you’re in Arizona, I’m sure you will have no problem helping your neighbors from the coastal areas when they are affected even more from stable climatologist predictions. Perhaps reflecting on the signs and symptoms of God reminding us of our responsibilities to this planet will turn out to be more than a “nothingburger” as you immaturely and arrogantly proclaimed. Nice work practicing what you preach, bishop.

    3. Jan Nunley+ says:

      Biblical illiteracy in Episcopalians is a terrible thing.
      “The nations raged,
      but your wrath has come,
      and the time for judging the dead,
      for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints and all who fear your name, both small and great,
      —Revelation 11.18-19

    4. Jon Spangler says:

      Bishop McMannes,

      You wrote: “Pray. Teach. Exhort. Encourage and pray some more.”

      That is precisely what I believe we should do as a church to fulfill our God-given stewardship for God’s creation, as Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is reminding us. After all, “The earth is the Lord’s and all the fullness thereof…” (PS 24)

      The overwhelming scientific evidence from all sectors shows us that human industrial activity has caused global climate destabilization. It is our responsibility to discern the truth about our world and act upon it. President Trump has–once again–distorted the truth to fit his personal goals to the detriment of the world community, the poor and disenfranchised, and the entire planet. (“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness…” ISA 5:20)

      As Christians who believe in Christ’s reign and His grace, we must “walk while you have the Light,” for “the one who walks in darkness does not know where he is going” (John 12:35-36).

      We cannot afford to walk in the darkness of ignorance or misinformation regarding the fate of our planet and its peoples, either.

  5. Richard Basta says:

    The presiding bishop did not mention that the president was open to renogtiating the terms of the accord as it appliies to the United states. So he is misrepresenting the truth. my knowledge the EPA has not been the vast majority of existing polution controls and thousands of environmental regulations put on place since 1970 or so are still in place. It only changes our leadership role in this one area. I thought that leading from behind sometimes was a good thing. Maybe it is in this case. Why not wait to see how China and India’s economies are impacted by voluntary reductions in carbon emissions first and then readjust our thinking later once we have real world impacts built into our economic models. Making decisions based on observable data in this regard might yield better decisions in the long term.

    1. Dick Garber says:

      God’s creation is not a “let’s see what happens” thing for me when I think of my grandchildren and their children and grandchildren.

      1. Tonya Riley says:

        I totally agree, we can’t wait to see what happens. We KNOW that our emissions are damaging the global temps. It’s a “now or never”, not a “wait & see”.

    2. Jerry Cohen says:

      Although the EPA has not been dismantled but it has a secretary now that doesn’t believe in EPA , climate change or the environment. Also EPA has beed de funded, I know they haven’t shut it down but they are sure trying to make impossible to function.

      Another thing is I like to know what improving the environment the air-quality and the water quality has a downside anywhere. What’s the worst that could happen we live better and live longer and healthier.

    3. BP. Raymond Decelles Sawyer, ICAB says:

      I am saddened by anyone who supports President Donald John Trump, where his social justice decisions and climate change issues are concerned. THe wisdom expressed by my Anglican brother in the Catholic episcopate reflects my own. I pray that he and anyone else who puts job over environment is engaging in a deceptive choice.

    4. Tonya Riley says:

      The Board of the Paris Agreement has already made it clear that it WILL NOT renegotiate the plan.

    5. Carolyn G. Valentine says:

      Wait and see doesn’t work, especially when Pruitt was asked if the President believed in global warming and he could give no answer.
      This is the Church’s posting and as such, respect it.

    6. Jon Spangler says:

      Richard Basta asks, “Why not wait to see how China and India’s economies are impacted by voluntary reductions in carbon emissions first and then readjust our thinking later once we have real world impacts built into our economic models. Making decisions based on observable data in this regard might yield better decisions in the long term.”

      First, withdrawing from the community of nations and the diplomatic process is not any form of “leadership” at all.

      Second, the super-abundant and overwhelming “observable data” on the pace and effects of global climate change (= global climate destabilization) brought on by human industrial activity and the combustion of carbon fuels) tells us that we do NOT have time to sit around for 10-50 years to “wait to see” whether current and future actions to pull the global climate back across the “tipping point” might work. We must continue to pursue far more active policies NOW to implement a sustainable world economy, lest we as a species be responsible for destroying God’s amazing creation–and our civilization as well as our brothers and sisters along with it…

    7. Max Higgs says:

      Basta, enough, Richard.

  6. Kathleen Le Blanc says:

    I am pleased we are participating in Thy Kingdom Come prayer movement. It could not have come at a better time. There is the separation of church and state so I appreciate this statement from our Presiding Bishop. Statements are pouring in from around the US and the world from Governors /Mayors/Presidents/Kings/Queens and even me as just a peasant but follower of Jesus. I posted my personal remarks on my FaceBook page and still have my prayer beads in my hand.

    1. Tonya Riley says:

      Amen! I agree that our PB is made the best statement for TEC & probably for all Christians world wide.

  7. Bill Hoelzel says:

    In these sad days of divisive dialogue, I applaud Michael Curry in taking the high road in his comments regarding Mr. Trump’s stated position. No confrontation. No castigation. Just preaching the pure Scriptural truth.

  8. Mark Harvey says:

    Saying that the EPA has not been disbanded ignores how much Trump is working hard to disband it. He proposes cuts of 30% to its budget and if enacted they will eviscerate the agency. Scott Pruitt, chief of the EPA, denies climate science and is a puppet of the fossil fuel industry as is Trump. To assert that Trump’s decision today “only changes our leadership role in this one area” ignores the overwhelming assault this administration is making on the public lands and environment in this country and now on the planet.

  9. Mel Jenkins says:

    Science is a product of human understanding of natural events. As such, in the tradition of the Anglican/Episcopalian relationships with the world, the presiding bishop’s statement fits well into an informed and well foundationed approach to humanity and all living creation.

    We only have history of society going back a few thousand years. We have history of the planet going back billions of years. Both those histories validate the presiding bishop.

    Our ethical understandings can be surmised far back. Our stated ethics are recent. Still, both compel us to realize that, with Anglican priest and poet, John Donne, and with Jesus, none of us , as individuals or communities or business people, exists independent of each other.

  10. Ernie Bennett says:

    Thank you to our Presiding for speaking so clearly and hopefully. I am grateful for his biblical witness and his charity.

  11. Gregory Willmore says:

    Bishop Curry speaks for me and my church. For we are the Episcopal branch of the Jesus movement. Thank you Bishop for reminding us that God has the whole world in His hands. I wish other faith leaders would have the same conviction and witness to speak the truth that God loves us and His creation. God bless you Bishop.

  12. William Deitenbeck says:

    You know,Bishop, you’re not always right.

    1. John Miller says:

      But in this case, he is…along with 90%plus of scientists.

      1. Gary mayer says:

        Science is not a consensus at one time the science cummunity an church believed the earth was the center of the universe an the world was flat

        1. Jon Spangler says:

          Gary Mayer–Do you honestly believe it is still “true” that the earth is flat and that the sun revolves around the earth or do you know better than that? (“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I set aside childish ways.” I COR 13:11)

          We must act wisely and decisively based on the best information available to us. And the preponderance of truth directs us to move swiftly–while we still can–to reverse the damage we have caused by burning fossil fuels and destabilizing the earth’s climate.

  13. Nancy West says:

    Roger, I agree. Richard, You speak with clarity. Too many people think with their emotions in condescending attitudes as though those of us who disagree hate the planet. And Dick, God bless all of our children and grandchildren, even those whose children and grandchildren have been aborted as abortion is something that the Episcopal Church supports. Each day this cradle Episcopalian becomes more of an American Anglican. And Diane, “ignorant” has many definitions. Please use the word sparingly and with respect.

    1. Jon Spangler says:

      Nancy West,

      I recommend this definition of “ignorant,” from the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
      Definition of ignorant
      a : destitute of knowledge or education an ignorant society; also : lacking knowledge or comprehension of the thing specified parents ignorant of modern mathematics
      b : resulting from or showing lack of knowledge or intelligence ignorant errors
      : unaware, uninformed

      This dictionary definition does not seem to support leaders or commenters who remain ill-informed, willfully ignorant, or otherwise not aware of the truth. It would also seem to support acting in accord with the overwhelming preponderance of scientific evidence across multiple disciplines that:
      a) global climate change is real,
      b) our global climate is destabilizing faster than anticipated,
      c) global climate change is human-caused,
      d) climate change has greatly accelerated since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution
      e) specifically, humans have disrupted the intricate balance of our planet’s climate by burning fossil fuels and creating greenhouse gases, and
      f) that the planet is near, at, or past the “tipping point” at which the earth’s climate may become increasingly unstable and dangerous.

  14. Sandy Weis says:

    Whether one believes in climate change or not, we, as Christians, have a duty to care for this earth and the world. God created the heavens and the earth, and created humankind, and gave them dominion over it.

  15. Helen Bell says:

    Thank you, Bishop Curry. My environmentalist father was a scientist, working in chemistry and quantum mechanics. He was talking about climate change before it was being discussed in the popular media. And regardless of how much climate change is human-caused, it is always our respnsibility to care for this marvelous planet God gave us to live on rather than exploiting and destroying it.

  16. Karin Green says:

    I’m still in. You?

  17. Gene Walker says:

    It may be already to late to turn global warming around, but denieing it or ignoring it will not work. We can, with Gods help, make a difference .

  18. Kay Laughton says:

    We are all responsible for taking care of our world. The Paris Accord makes this clear so there is nothing to negotiate. We must lead so shame on us for this stand. Thank you Bishop Curry for your stand.

  19. Thank you, Bishop Curry for this courageous and clear witness. I agree with you that our Church’s response to the President’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord need not disempwer us from “taking bold action on climate change mitigation and adaptation.” I would like to see a Church-wide programmatic initiative that encourages and offers concrete spiritual, liturgical and practical approaches through which our dioceses, congregations , educational and other entities may acknowledge, celebrate and exercise our stewardship of creation, and demonstrate our commitment to “staying in” with the Principles of the Parish Agreement.

    1. mike geibel says:

      The Genesis Covenant was adopted by the TEC in 2009. ;

      I suspect you are not the only one unaware that that in 2009 the TEC requested members and churches to voluntarily reduce their carbon footprint by 50% within the next 10 years — 2019. Not a good indicator of how successful the Paris Accord would be.

  20. Melissa Ridlon says:

    I am so grateful for Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Bishop Marc Andrus, and the myriad of faithful people, lay and ordained, who lead us by word and example in understanding that we are not just called, but commanded, to love one another, to love our neighbors as ourselves. Surely, that involves each of us committing to work for healthy air, healthy water, healthy environments and healthy opportunity for all of God’s children and the places where they live. If we believe our Baptismal covenant, we know that “With God’s help”, we can.

  21. Gary mayer says:

    God created all that is with a purpose. God flooded the world to rid it of man. We are foolish to believe we can destroy that which God has made. The bishop should deal with healing the episcopal church an less trying to be a part politician. Just my opinion

  22. Hugh Hansen, Ph.D. says:

    I like the simple truth expressed by Sandy Weis. I also feel that PB Curry was quite articulate in expressing the scriptural nature of taking care of this planet. It is Gods, every single Atom, every single process, and every single law. God “love the world so much he gave his only son.” And the son asked us to pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We cannot avoid a responsibility as citizens of this world.

  23. Karin Green says:

    I’m still in. You?

  24. Good words and encouragement from our Presiding Bishop. This God’s good world- may we esteem and nurture our beloved planet- she’s the only one we have.

  25. Rev. Dr. Heather A. Warren says:

    Thank you, Presiding Bishop Curry. We will persist.

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