Faith Advocates React to Paris Agreement Decision

In Paris at the COP 21 in December 2015, Gary Payton stands with World Council of Churches and Act Alliance in support of African cyclists who raised awareness of climate change in their continent by cycling through multiple countries.

Voices from people of faith in the United States as well as around the world continue to support climate change policies and particularly the Paris Agreement. These strong statements come in the aftermath of  President Trump’s announcement in early June that he would pull the U.S. out of the international agreement.

An article published by the World Council of Churches begins, “Climate justice isn’t a policy that can simply be thrown away by any president – it’s a moral decision that affects the well-being of millions of people and future generations across the world.” 

This ecumenical global organization continues, “Thousands of people are communicating this message via statements, posts and tweets on social media, and even with earnest conversations with their neighbors. Many are from the World Council of Churches (WCC) fellowship, humanitarian groups, churches and communities, and they are bringing a clear – and unified – voice of justice after US President Donald Trump announced on 2 June that his nation would leave the Paris climate accord. From initial cries of dismay, a strengthened resolve toward hope, action and change has emerged.”

Read their full article here.

Meanwhile, Gary Payton, an attendee of the COP 21 which resulted in the Paris Agreement, writes, “In December 2015, I attended the UN Conference of the Parties (COP21) as an official “observer” with the support of the PCUSA’s Office of Environmental Ministries. My goal was to “bear witness” to the critical negotiations and share that story via the PCUSA’s Eco-Justice Journey blog, the Idaho Conservation League, and public presentations.  As an environmental advocate, for months I’d prepared “in my head”  – studying the UN processes, absorbing the environmental positions of multiple nation states, and deepening my knowledge of the impacts of climate change.”

Payton goes on to say, “The reality of Paris, however, changed my outlook forever.  It was the “in the heart” experiences which took me to a different place.  For years, I’d written and spoken in future tense of climate change and its impacts.  I regularly framed remarks in the context of my two grandchildren and the world they’d experience in decades to come.  My days at COP21 radically altered that framework.  Paris shook me out of my comfortable American perspective and introduced me personally to the suffering of sisters and brothers happening today from climate change.” To read Gary’s first hand account of people he met in Paris, from all around the world, continue reading here. 

May God continue to guide us, to help us to hear one another, and to move forward with justice, compassion, and love for God’s creation.

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