faith in action

As the U.S. Prepares to Exit Paris Agreement, United Methodists Prepare to Take Action

For people of faith and good conscience, this decision compels us to redouble our own efforts to address climate change.

United Methodists march for climate justice

Keeping to the 1.5 degrees goal is quite simply a matter of survival. For all of us, the Paris Agreement is our lifeline.

Debasu Bayleyegn Eyasu, Ethiopia’s Ministry of Environment

The Paris Agreement is the result of decades of negotiations among the world’s leaders to address the real and growing threat of climate change.

Like all compromises, the agreement is far from perfect, but it represents a consensus and commitment among 195 countries across the development spectrum to taking action: reducing emissions, increasing climate finance and transitioning to a cleaner, more equitable energy future.

For years, United Methodists have been present at these global negotiations. Rooted in our call to protect God’s people and God’s planet and informed by the experiences of our diverse contexts, our delegations have brought together United Methodists from the United States, the Philippines and from across Europe and Africa. We held prayer vigils and press conferences and countless meetings with negotiators as we advocated for an ambitious global agreement that would provide our best hope to prevent catastrophic climate change.

And in one afternoon, the United States government threatened to unravel years of progress.

The decision to abandon the Paris Agreement has placed the United States on the sidelines and outside the global scientific, political, economic and moral consensus. This reckless decision lies in stark contrast to The United Methodist Church’s position that, based on its historic emissions as the world’s largest user of energy resources, the United States has “a unique responsibility to take actions based on sound scientific and ethical principles of respect for and justice within the world community.” (Book of Resolutions, 1002)

How this decision will impact the Agreement moving forward is unclear.

The conversations since Paris have been focused on closing the so-called ambition gap between what is necessary based on the scientific recommendations and what has been pledged to date – pledges constrained by countries’ domestic political realities. We simply cannot predict how the global community will respond to the United States withdrawal from the world stage.

But for people of faith and good conscience, this decision compels us to redouble our own efforts to address climate change.

Unlike the White House, we cannot stay walled up in our places of comfort and privilege. We understand our complicity and our responsibility. Listening to the groaning of Creation and the realities of frontline communities we are called to address our own “ambition gap” between our words and our actions.

We are called to preach and teach and stand in solidarity with all those who are interrupting systems of oppression and exploitation as we seek to reflect God’s radical expression of love for all of creation.

For more Climate Justice information and resources — including how to send a message to your members of Congress click here.