1. Press Release
  2. Environment & Energy

Faith-based organizations rebuke US withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement

By Timothy McHugh, November 4, 2019


Washington, DC – As leaders of faith-based organizations, we are gravely concerned by the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement.

Contact: Tim McHugh, Friends Committee on National Legislation, media@fcnl.org; 202-903-2515

We understand acting on climate change to be a moral imperative. Our traditions speak to the importance of good stewardship of the resources given to us, caring for our neighbors both far and near, and respecting the sacred value of the natural world. The Paris Agreement takes important steps towards actualizing those values, and it has been championed by people of faith around the world. In the U.S., hundreds of faith-based organizations and congregations have signified their commitment to remaining in the Paris Agreement, and have taken action by investing in clean, renewable energy for their offices and houses of worship. We can only hope our elected officials will ultimately show the same foresight and leadership. Below, you can find the responses of individual religious leaders to this short-sighted decision.

Quotes from faith leaders:

The Friends Committee on National Legislation is deeply disappointed by President Trump’s decision to formally withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, the 2015 international agreement to address our current climate emergency. People’s lives and livelihoods are being adversely affected due to our inaction, and we recognize that vulnerable communities are disproportionately harmed by climate change. As the world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases, U.S. withdrawal is an irresponsible and short-sighted action. As Quakers, this is an abandonment of our theological understanding of our moral obligation to care for creation and the least of us. We pray the President will soon recognize the magnitude and severity of the climate crisis and choose to address the issue with haste and compassion.

–Diane Randall, Executive Secretary, Friends Committee on National Legislation

In 2012, the Christian Reformed Church in North America considered the issue of creation care and publicly stated, “love of God, love of neighbor, and the demands of stewardship are more than enough reason for evangelical Christians to respond to the climate change problem with moral passion and concrete action.” We are committed to addressing the climate crisis both through private and public action, and are deeply saddened by the news that the US is about to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. We are especially concerned because we recognize that the people who are first and most harmed by climate change are those who are poor – in the US, Canada, and around the world. We know that if we do not do our part to respond to the climate crisis, the next generation will suffer the consequences. We pray that our government leaders will recognize the magnitude of a decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and will take appropriate action to rectify it.

–Dr. Steven Timmermans, Executive Director, Christian Reformed Church in North America

Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement is condemnable. The United States should be united with the world in common cause to keep greenhouse gasses in check and find long-term solutions to the climate crisis. Instead it is standing apart. The Agreement was agreed upon after more than two decades of negotiations, it was made knowing that it would only succeed with the world’s powers working together. As the historically leading emitter of climate change related greenhouse gasses -- whose emissions went up in 2018, not down – this is unacceptable.

–Rev. John L. McCullough, President and CEO of Church World Service

Withdrawal from this crucial agreement directly jeopardizes the health and sustainability of our common home and vulnerable communities around the world. Columban Missionaries see first-hand the impacts of climate change. In Myanmar and Peru, we watch as glaciers, a main water and irrigation source, continue to disappear. In the Philippines and Fiji, extreme weather events and rising sea levels threaten coastal communities where agriculture and fishing are a main source of economic stability. In Pakistan and the US, severe droughts cause food and water shortages. Our moral obligation to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change is the same as our obligation to be our sisters’ and brothers’ keeper (cf. Gen 4:9). In the face of climate inaction from the administration, Columbans strongly encourage Congress to stand up for meaningful climate commitments.

–Scott Wright, Director, Columban Center for Advocacy & Outreach

The Franciscan Action Network was blessed to join representatives from the entire Franciscan family (across six continents) at the COP 21 in Paris in 2015. It was a hopeful time, but also one of urgency as our climate crisis continued to worsen. Now, with the President deciding to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, he is showing once again that the U.S. does not want to be a leader on the world stage. He would rather be in isolation than in collaboration with the entire world. This is a selfish, partisan maneuver that will have far reaching and disastrous consequences for life on our planet as we know it. In his encyclical Laudato Si, Pope Francis calls on Catholics, Christians, and all people of good will to hear the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. We pray that the President hears these cries and decides to reverse this decision and instead take the lead in reversing the disastrous effects of the climate crisis before it is too late.

–Patrick Carolan, Executive Director, Franciscan Action Network

People of faith and conscience throughout the United States have spent countless hours and resources responding to climate disasters in their communities and around the world. The Paris agreement, signed by every country in the world, expresses the intention of the global community to respond to this existential crisis with the seriousness that is desperately needed. President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement is a grave injustice, and will further burden those who are disproportionately suffering the impacts of rising sea levels, droughts, wildfires, and pollution caused by the fossil fuel economy. Regardless of this reckless action, faith communities continue to signal that we are Still In and working to meet the goals of the Paris accord.

–Rev. Susan Hendershot, President of Interfaith Power & Light

The Leadership Conference of Women (LCWR) was deeply disappointed by President Trump’s 2017 pledge to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement and we are profoundly troubled by his plans to formally request withdrawal within the next few weeks. Catholic teaching is clear: climate change is a grave moral issue that threatens our commitment to protect human life and dignity; to exercise a preferential option for the most vulnerable; to promote the common good; and to care for God’s creation. The failure of the United States to fulfill its 2015 commitment will dishonor our nation and threaten our common home. We will continue to raise our voices against climate policies that harm Earth and its people and to advocate for climate justice.

–Sister Carol Zinn, SSJ, Executive Director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious

As one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases, the United States has a moral obligation to reduce emissions and help people suffering from the negative effects of climate change worldwide. Many of the communities in the 53 countries in which we work are already experiencing increased drought and flooding, which contribute to hunger and displacement. We ask the administration to reverse its decision, honor U.S. commitments and remain in the Paris Accord.

–J Ron Byler, Executive Director, Mennonite Central Committee U.S.

The Sisters of Mercy of the Americas have consistently supported the Paris climate agreement as a first global step to achieving the greenhouse gas emission reductions required to avoid catastrophic global heating. Scientists now tell us that we need much bolder and urgent actions, and within a much tighter timeline, than was clear in 2015. That demands much greater engagement and accountability by governments around the world, not less. We urge Congress to take measures to ensure that the United States accepts its critical role and responsibility on the global stage through an unprecedented robust response to the climate crisis. Our sisters who have lived through devastating storms in the Philippines and New Jersey; flooding in Iowa and Peru; and sea-level rise in the Caribbean and Guam are crying out for such leadership.

–Sister Patricia McDermott, RSM, president, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

As Christians, we have every reason in the world to be concerned about our warming world: Jesus tells us that the best way to follow him is to love God with everything we’ve got and to love our neighbors as though their current circumstances and future prospects are our own. We know that climate impacts are threatening both God’s good world and our neighbor’s good. Addressing climate change and keeping warming as low as possible, then, is a concrete way for us to get better at following Jesus’ command. Yet the Trump Administration is committed to the exact opposite. It is immoral and irresponsible for the United States to abandon our commitment and withdraw from an agreement signed by virtually every nation of the world. The U.S. should be a leader in the effort to protect God’s creation, but the President’s actions do the opposite.

–Rev. Kyle Meyaard-Schaap, National Organizer and Spokesperson, Young Evangelicals for Climate Action

To learn more, please visit www.fcnl.org.

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Timothy McHugh

  • Director of Media Relations

Tim leads organizational efforts to communicate about issues, victories, priorities, and updates through all available news channels – specifically the major media outlets. He is responsible for providing FCNL staff with opportunities to convey our message – in print and through the airways – to the public and throughout the country. He keeps FCNL issues and staff on the collective radars of reporters and journalists nationwide. Lastly, he runs FCNL several media-focused social media channels.