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Climate Leadership Is Not About President Trump: It’s About You; It’s About Us

A Statement on the Paris Agreement Decision by President Trump.

The Rev. Mitch Hescox and the Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D.

President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the international climate change treaty known as the Paris Accord is a profoundly foolish and arrogant act.  Whether or not it proves to be one that leads to a destabilized climate that threatens the lives of millions is not up to President Trump.  It’s up to us.

If President Trump’s foolish act has done anything it has clarified the moment we are in: it is time for each and every one of us to take a stand for climate action.  

Henceforth, there is no middle ground; there is no passive, neutral place.  Either you are for climate action or you are not.  

The Christian life is not fundamentally about the absence of doing bad things, the absence of bad or sinful acts.  Rather, the Christian life is the presence of good things from God, His grace and love and His presence through the Holy Spirit in us and the Christian community; it is the abundant life Jesus promised.  And from these good things from God we are empowered to do what we were created to do, to image or reflect God on earth, to do good things in turn, to love and stand up for what’s right and thereby create a better world.

Today when it comes to climate risk, to not act is to act.  Inaction and outright opposition lead to a destabilized, profoundly dangerous climate – not the type of world Christian love and righteousness should create.  

President Trump has acted against climate action.  If your response is inaction, then you are with President Trump and against what God is calling each of us to: overcoming climate change while creating sustainable prosperity for all.

President Trump’s climate foolishness is an opportunity for the rest of us to take a stand for what’s right.  Because the solutions to climate change, such as clean energy, have many other positive benefits, we can do well by doing good.

First, we can still fulfill our pollution-reduction pledge even without the Trump Administration.  Because the commitments to reduce emissions by each country that is part of the Paris Accord are voluntary, there is no reason our country still can’t work towards fulfilling our pledge.  Since the Trump Administration won’t lead, governors and state legislatures and mayors and city councils and businesses and utilities and civic organizations and houses of worship and homeowners and individuals can come together, tally up our pollution reduction commitments, and present that information to the world.

Second, overcoming climate change, if done right, can create sustainable prosperity – in large measure due to the clean energy transformation.  Clean energy is a multi-trillion dollar opportunity for countries smart enough to make the necessary investments in basic and advanced R&D to spur invention and innovation.  It will be a primary driver for economic prosperity in the future.  But in another failure to lead, the Trump Administration’s proposed budget takes us in the exact wrong direction with clean tech R&D, slashing the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by 70%, and killing one of the most important programs, ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy).  Congress must not go along with such foolishness.

Finally, President Trump also announced that his Administration was against helping the poorest countries deal with climate change through the Green Climate Fund.  Christians and others of good will must work with Congress to not let this happen.  The poor in these countries have done nothing to create the problem, and yet they are seeing and will see the worst of the consequences.  Our American values of fairness and compassion should lead our country to fulfill our commitment and continue to pay our share of the Green Climate Fund to help the poorest of the poor.

Whether or not we will stand tall on climate action is not up to President Trump.  He is like the naysayers of old, trying to convince the Hebrew people during their wilderness sojourn to return to Egypt.  Like the children of Israel, let us choose, rather, to continue forward towards the promised land.  For if we follow God’s will for us and work to overcome climate change by creating sustainable prosperity powered by clean energy, we will indeed enter into a brighter, healthier future for ourselves, our children, and our children’s children.


The Rev. Mitch Hescox is President/CEO of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) and coauthor of Caring for Creation: The Evangelical’s Guide to Climate Change and a Healthy Environment.  

The Rev. Jim Ball, Ph.D., is EEN’s Executive Vice President and author of Global Warming and the Risen Lord: Christian Discipleship and Climate Change.

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