California bishop responds to Trump's decision to pull US out of climate agreement

Posted Jun 2, 2017

[Episcopal News Service] California Bishop Marc Andrus issued the following statement June 2 in response to President Donald Trump’s June 1 announcement that he would pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement. Nations worldwide signed the 2015 agreement, which includes a plan to decrease carbon emissions and limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius. It also commits wealthier nations to provide $100 billion in aid to developing countries by 2020. Andrus represented the Episcopal Church at the Paris United Nations Climate Conference in 2015 (COP21), the 2016 conference in Marrakech (COP22) and at the United States’ signing of the agreement at United Nations headquarters in 2016.

“We’re still in!”

This full-throated chant was the response of hundreds of climate activists in Marrakech attending the United Nations climate change summit — the “action summit” — the day after the U.S. presidential election last November.

Presiding Bishop Curry quoted our chant from Marrakech in his stirring call to action yesterday (June 1), responding to President Trump’s decision to annul the U.S. commitment to the Paris Agreement.

“We’re still in” means that, despite negative actions by the President, we — cities, states, faith bodies, business partners — we can keep the U.S. commitment ourselves, and it is imperative that we do so.

What would be the impact if more than two million Episcopalians each reduced their carbon footprint and supported carbon sequestration? What strength can be brought to bear when Episcopalians resolutely stand with people on the front lines of climate change, as in Pacific Islands countries? What would happen when our faith partners, like the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Moravians, and the United Methodists also activate their faith bodies for climate action?

The alliances I’ve just named are only the beginning — Roman Catholics, Unitarians, United Church of Christ members, Eastern Orthodox Christians, and Quakers were all at both the Paris and Marrakech climate summits. From the interfaith world, I have witnessed strong leadership from Buddhism. Many of you may have seen the moving prayers about climate change written by young Muslims in Marrakech as part of our public witness of faith each day.

Civil society sub-national bodies are already stepping forward to meet the challenge. Last evening, Governor Brown of my state, California, said that California will continue along the path of decarbonization. Governor Brown has already entered into alliances with other states in our country and made contacts internationally for concerted climate action.

There is widespread support for climate action in the Episcopal Church. Environment is one of the three pillars of our missional focus, and we have superb leadership in our presiding officers. More than twenty Episcopal bishops signed a letter voicing their opposition to President Trump’s earlier executive order that cleared away vital environmental protections. The Advisory Council on the Care of Creation is bearing witness to the deep commitment of Episcopalians across the Church who are already working creatively to heal our planet — more than sixty grant proposals for projects in climate action have been received by the Advisory Council in less than a year of our work.

President Trump’s announcement yesterday is no surprise. Our response in Marrakech was based on his campaign promise of pulling out of the Paris Agreement, a promise he has followed through on despite the urgings of many prominent business, political, policy and science leaders. The surprise will be the response by millions of ordinary people in this country, not least by the many millions of faithful people who see care of Creation as a sacred responsibility.

The Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus
Bishop of the Diocese of California