Just hours before President Donald Trump made his announcement that the United States was pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Office of Public Witness sent out an “Action Alert,” asking Presbyterians to call their legislators and urge them to pressure the President to remain in the agreement.
The “Action Alert” email said that withdrawing the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, “would be disastrous for God’s people and creation.”
The alert was sent a little too late to make a difference. Yesterday afternoon (6/1/17), Trump announced that the United States will withdraw from the agreement:
“The United States will withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord but begin negotiations to reenter either the Paris accord or an entirely new transaction under terms that are fair to the United States… As someone who cares deeply about our environment, I cannot in good conscience support a deal which punishes the United States …The Paris accord is very unfair at the highest level to the United States.”
Later in the day, the Rev. Jimmie Hawkins, executive director of the Office of Public Witness, responded to Trump’s decision by participating in a protest/press conference near the White House.
“I’m here today to say that the Bible begins with these words, ‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” said Hawkins. “At 3:30 President Trump removed the United States from the Paris Climate Accord, and in that statement, Trump said, ‘We are standing for Pittsburgh and against Paris.’ Well, I came here today to say, ‘President, you don’t have to choose between Pittsburgh and Paris.’”
Hawkins continued, “Today, Presbyterians stand with Paris. Today, Episcopalians stand with Paris. Today, Buddhists stand with Paris. Today, the Jewish Community stands with Paris. People from all aspects of our faith – We stand with Paris.”
A press release posted on the Facebook page of the Office of Public Witness said that “Pulling out of this agreement hurts our communities and the most marginalized, particular low-income communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by climate change, and would benefit the most from increasing renewable energy jobs. Let us continue in action to fight for the care of God’s creation! In light of this decision by our executive branch, let us renew our commitment to pursuing alternative energy sources and sustainability practices that will ensure all things will thrive on this planet.”
The emailed “Action Alert” alert read:
President Trump is signaling that he will pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement, which would be disastrous for God’s people and creation.
Representatives from 196 nations made a historic pact on Dec. 12, 2015, in Paris to adopt green energy sources, cut down on climate change emissions and limit the rise of global temperatures — while also cooperating to cope with the impact of unavoidable climate change.
The agreement acknowledges that the threat of climate change is “urgent and potentially irreversible,” and can only be addressed through “the widest possible cooperation by all countries” and “deep reductions in global emissions.”
It is in keeping with our deeply held religious values that we ask Congress to put pressure on President Trump to remain a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Paris Agreement and to fulfill our commitments under that agreement.
There are broad international consequences to exiting the Paris Agreement or failing to meet domestic reduction goals. If the United States withdraws from the agreement or halts all efforts to reduce carbon emissions, we will face diplomatic ramifications that could undercut cooperation on other global efforts that are in the interests of the U.S. Exiting the agreement would send the message that the United States cannot be trusted as a leader and partner in global affairs.
The need for global leadership could not be more urgent. We believe that the United States can and must play a leadership role in addressing the environmental challenges which threaten our planet, our security, the health of our families, and the fate of communities throughout the world.
Climate Change on The Reconnect
Referencing the Office of Public Witness’ Action Alert claim that leaving the Accord would be “disastrous for God’s people and creation,” Laberge said that might be an overstatement, and “certainly an overstatement for the church to make.” And calling climate change “urgent and potentially irreversible,” she said, “limits God’s ability to do whatever He wants to do in terms of redeeming things.”
Laberge said she agreed with the statement that “The need for global leadership could not be more urgent,” but added “I would also say that the need for Christian leadership cannot be more urgent and since this comes from at least group that calls itself a Christian denomination, maybe they should have thought of that … They should be asserting their distinctly Christian witness in all of this.”
‘It is an issue’
“I don’t deny that climate change is an issue,” said LaBerge. “I don’t deny that those who are most adversely affected by climate change are probably in the poorest position to do anything about it, unless God is a part of the answer to the question. Unless God is a part of the formula that you are working with.”
Speaking of the commitments made in the Paris Climate Accord, LaBerge said that other than the $3-billion financial agreement, “Every other commitment in this is a commitment that Americans themselves can keep regardless of whether or not the United States of America is a signatory on a document. So, if you are a person who is compelled to uphold and advance the concerns related to the Paris Climate Change agreement, then do it. No one is preventing you.”
To hear more of Carmen LaBerge’s discussion of the Paris Climate Change Accord on The Reconnect, click here.
(Above photo: Rev. Jimmie R. Hawkins, with the Office of Public Witness, PCUSA at the protest/press conference near the White House. Photo taken from Facebook)