“This foolish action will go down in infamy”

November 9, 2019


Brian Webb

Trust me. Brian Webb is normally sanguine. He’s the sustainability coordinator for Upstate New York’s straight-laced Houghton College, a Wesleyan Christian school, and he runs an evangelical environmental advocacy group called Climate Caretakers. He administrates and advocates with poise and aplomb. We should listen when he fumes, and he did precisely that in a prayer letter describing America’s announced formal withdrawal from the 2016 Paris climate agreement. I paste it here with his permission.

As expected, this Monday President Trump began the process of withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement by sending a formal letter to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  Let me state this plainly; this foolish action will go down in infamy as one of the greatest failures of leadership in American history.

Most of you may not know, but Climate Caretakers was founded in 2015 specifically for the purpose of cultivating support among American Evangelicals for the Paris Agreement.  In fact, we sent a team of 10 people to COP-21 in Paris to generate awareness, create publicity, pray, network, and lend our voices to the tens of thousands of others advocating in Paris for a strong commitment to climate action.  In many ways, you could say that the Paris Agreement is what launched Climate Caretakers.

The Paris Agreement still forms the backbone of global efforts to address climate change, and countries such as China and the European Union have continued to lead the movement.  But the world needs U.S. leadership–or at least participation.  Moreover, the United States needs the Paris Agreement!  Without it we abandon any claims to moral leadership on the global stage, just as we abandon the poor, the vulnerable, and the millions who are suffering the worst impacts of climate change.

The Paris Agreement is the first comprehensive and achievable strategy for effectively addressing climate change on a global scale.  Full participation with bold commitments–especially from the world’s major polluters–is essential for us to effectively address climate change in a just and Christ-like manner.  We must hold all countries accountable to their Nationally Determined Contributions (each country’s voluntary GHG reduction goal), and we must urge the United States to re-engage with this critical agreement.

Experts tell us we have 11 years to cut our global emissions by 45%.  We need bold action and bold leadership, both from our elected leaders but also from each of us.  In the coming weeks, you’ll hear from us more often about two specific opportunities.

  1. Christian Climate Observers Program (CCOP) at COP-25 in Madrid – Climate Caretakers is a sponsoring organization and is providing leadership for the first ever CCOP program at next month’s UN climate conference in Madrid.  A team of 23 Christians will be in Madrid to encourage bold actions at COP-25, to raise awarness about climate change within Christian communities, and to mentor a new group of Christian climate leaders.  You can follow what’s happening with our daily CCOP emails which will highlight what’s happening at COP-25, stories from the global climate movement, daily prayer requests, etc.  Click here to sign up for these temporary daily emails (sent between Dec 1-14).
  2. Be Bold! – During 2020 we’re going to challenge each of your to Be Bold for the climate.  Speak boldly. Act boldly. Reduce your carbon boldly.  Bold actions to address climate change must start with us and they need to start now.  Start thinking now about what this means for you.

Creator God,

We need bold leadership on climate.  Thank you for those who have stepped up to take action–countries and leaders, pastors and congregations, ordinary people from all walks of life.  But we recognize that we can and must do more.

We pray that you will convict leaders in the United States, and especially the President, to rejoin the Paris Agreement. We pray that all countries will increase their ambitions with strong greenhouse gas commitments.  We pray that the Paris Agreement will be strengthened at COP-25 next month.  We pray for wise decisions and bold actions.

We also pray that you will convict each of us to act more boldly than we have done before.  Inspire us to match our actions with our words.  Strengthen us to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ so as to put each other’s needs above our own. Teach us what this even means when it comes to our carbon footprint, and how we should steward our carbon emissions in light of the example you give us in scripture.  We submit to you, Lord, and pray for your guidance in this great challenge.


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About Charles Redfern

Charles Redfern is a writer, activist, and clergyman living in Connecticut with his wife and family. He's currently writing two books, with more in his head.

View all posts by Charles Redfern


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