The Anglican Communion Environmental Network has added its voice to those condemning President Donald Trump for deciding to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement.
President Trump said the agreement, which was reached in October 2015, would hurt the American economy, cost American jobs and put the US at a disadvantage with rival economies such as China and India.
In its statement the Environmental Network expressed its sorrow at the decision. The statement continued:
“Although the agreement fell far short of what we need to halt the progression of climate change, it was a huge step in the right direction, especially because for the first time almost every nation on the planet agreed to work together.
“The Anglican Communion Environmental Network connects Anglican and Episcopalian Christians around the world. We know that our brothers and sisters on every continent are already experiencing the damaging and sometimes catastrophic effects of climate change.
“Coming out of the Paris climate conference a senior USA State Department official said this: ‘The faith community has been essential in making the case that confronting climate change is our moral responsibility. The Christian community has led that effort, helping to push for a strong agreement that protects vulnerable and threatened communities’.
“We call on fellow Christians and all people of faith in the USA to hear the voices of their brothers and sisters who are already impacted by climate change. Our faith calls us to feed the hungry. Today, this means halting those actions which are causing hunger and starvation. We know that climate change means water change – less rain in some areas, devastating flooding in others and sea level rise which threatens our coastal areas and small island states. Without rains, the crops fail and there is famine. Where there is famine people leave their land and end up as climate refugees, which leads to further suffering, social devastation and the risk of increased violence.
“We do not want our legacy to be a world where the waters have been polluted, the air is foul, and the creatures we love have become extinct. As people of faith we dream of a better world for our children and grandchildren, where energy is renewable and clean, where we are not poisoned by our food, and where no child goes to bed hungry.
“We do not despair. We are encouraged and inspired by the example of the people of South Africa, who lived under a denialist president. In the face of a devastating AIDS pandemic, President Thabo Mbeki denied that HIV causes AIDS; he included AIDS denialists in his National AIDS Committee and promoted pseudo-science. He refused to embrace anti-retrovirals and many people died as a result. But the effect of his denialism was the rising of civil society movements. People came together as never before and pushed for change. As a result South Africa ended up with one of the best HIV programmes in the world. We hope and trust that President Trump’s stance will mobilise civil society in the USA and around the world in a way that has never been seen before.
“We stand in solidarity and prayer with the people of the USA. We pray that you will find ways to work for a just transition to green energy and, hearing the cry of the Rust Belt, that jobs will be created in the renewables sector for those who have lost hope. We pray that you will find ways to protect the incredible beauty of nature that God has put into your care. Come and join your brothers and sisters in the rest of the planet as we work for a better future for all.”
Under the Paris agreement, countries agreed to keep global temperatures well below 2C above pre-industrial temperatures. Richer nations also committed to help poorer ones financially to enable them to adapt to climate change and switch to renewable energy. But under the terms of the deal, the United States cannot pull out until 5 November 2020 – which is also a day after the next US presidential election.