California bishop responds to Trump’s decision to pull US out of climate agreement

[Episcopal News Service] California Bishop Marc Andrus issued the following statement June 2 in response to President Donald Trump’s June 1 announcement that he would pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement. Nations worldwide signed the 2015 agreement, which includes a plan to decrease carbon emissions and limit global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius. It also commits wealthier nations to provide $100 billion in aid to developing countries by 2020. Andrus represented the Episcopal Church at the Paris United Nations Climate Conference in 2015 (COP21), the 2016 conference in Marrakech (COP22) and at the United States’ signing of the agreement at United Nations headquarters in 2016.

“We’re still in!”

This full-throated chant was the response of hundreds of climate activists in Marrakech attending the United Nations climate change summit — the “action summit” — the day after the U.S. presidential election last November.

Presiding Bishop Curry quoted our chant from Marrakech in his stirring call to action yesterday (June 1), responding to President Trump’s decision to annul the U.S. commitment to the Paris Agreement.

“We’re still in” means that, despite negative actions by the President, we — cities, states, faith bodies, business partners — we can keep the U.S. commitment ourselves, and it is imperative that we do so.

What would be the impact if more than two million Episcopalians each reduced their carbon footprint and supported carbon sequestration? What strength can be brought to bear when Episcopalians resolutely stand with people on the front lines of climate change, as in Pacific Islands countries? What would happen when our faith partners, like the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Moravians, and the United Methodists also activate their faith bodies for climate action?

The alliances I’ve just named are only the beginning — Roman Catholics, Unitarians, United Church of Christ members, Eastern Orthodox Christians, and Quakers were all at both the Paris and Marrakech climate summits. From the interfaith world, I have witnessed strong leadership from Buddhism. Many of you may have seen the moving prayers about climate change written by young Muslims in Marrakech as part of our public witness of faith each day.

Civil society sub-national bodies are already stepping forward to meet the challenge. Last evening, Governor Brown of my state, California, said that California will continue along the path of decarbonization. Governor Brown has already entered into alliances with other states in our country and made contacts internationally for concerted climate action.

There is widespread support for climate action in the Episcopal Church. Environment is one of the three pillars of our missional focus, and we have superb leadership in our presiding officers. More than twenty Episcopal bishops signed a letter voicing their opposition to President Trump’s earlier executive order that cleared away vital environmental protections. The Advisory Council on the Care of Creation is bearing witness to the deep commitment of Episcopalians across the Church who are already working creatively to heal our planet — more than sixty grant proposals for projects in climate action have been received by the Advisory Council in less than a year of our work.

President Trump’s announcement yesterday is no surprise. Our response in Marrakech was based on his campaign promise of pulling out of the Paris Agreement, a promise he has followed through on despite the urgings of many prominent business, political, policy and science leaders. The surprise will be the response by millions of ordinary people in this country, not least by the many millions of faithful people who see care of Creation as a sacred responsibility.

The Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus
Bishop of the Diocese of California


  1. Richard Basta says:

    One can care for Creation and still support a balanced approach to environmental protection. They are not mutually exclusive. The bishops statement appears to be intolerant of other points of view, because he implies that those who support trumps decision don’t care about the environment. Total rubbish!

    • Brian MacFarland says:

      Unfortunately, Trump has no idea what a balanced approach might look like.

    • Sean McConnell says:

      I reread Bishop Andrus’ statement three times to locate the implied intolerance, but could not find it. After a brief search of the internet, what I could find was the list of business leaders that oppose the President’s decision to remove the United States from the Paris Accord. Perhaps these too are opposed to “a balanced approach to environmental protection.”

      Exxon Mobile
      Shell Oil Company
      General Electric
      Ford Motor Company
      General Motors
      Hewlett Packard
      Goldman Sachs

      To name a few.

    • Allan Miles says:

      Richard, could you outline some specifics regarding what you envision as a balanced approach? I’m sure you don’t simply mean that every concrete step taken toward slowing climate change should be balanced by a step taken toward accelerating climate change. (And I have to say I can’t imagine that a serious balancing act wasn’t involved in arriving at an agreed-upon plan reached through an extended effort on the part of nearly two hundred countries–reaching consensus requires balancing competing interests, doesn’t it?

    • Betty Butler Cole says:

      Amen. God’s children, doing what they can to help the environment, is as it should be. Not the government dictating what we must do. I believe God cares too, for his children to eat and live fruitful lives, with jobs to help care for themselves and His environment. There can be a good balance between the two sides of this argument. Those in athority do NOT need to further devide this country, but be an example of working together.

      • Cynthia Cravens says:

        This, to the faith-filled and honorable writer above: all governments dictate to their citizens or subjects…some with a lot of democratic input from citizens (most developed nations of the West), others without any democratic input at all (i.e North Korea); but, in the case of the United States, there seems to be an ideological divide on what issues the federal government should be allowed to dictate. Conservatives/ Libertarians seem to think that our government should only dictate on issues of national security when confronted by foreign human threat , and, possibly, some issues of multi-state justice; Liberals (my own ideological tribe), however, think that our government should dictate on other threats to our nation as well, threats such as pollution in our common air, water, and soil…pollution brought on by the activities of multi-national corporations, entities too wealthy and powerful to be seriously impacted by the efforts of activists, God’s Children though they may be.

        This country IS divided…on that we agree. But, it is my hope that we”ll be able to, once again, remember our common ground, focus on our common interests, and work together once more.

        God Bless….

    • John Grate says:

      After reading the other comments it seems the unbalanced view is that of Trump’s.

    • John E. Schneider, RLA, ASLA says:

      If Donald Trump was committed to caring for the Earth and uniting the country in the best interest of current and future generations, he would steer towards a more moderate course on climate action. If nothing more is done to reduce emissions, and in fact efforts to protect the environment and reduce global warming are turned back, it will become a more serious life-threatening problem. Failure to build a low-carbon economy puts all Americans at risk. To not do so is certainly not a balanced approach to environmental protection.
      Numbers 35: 33-34

  2. Vicki Gray says:

    Thank you, Bishop Marc, for speaking out . We’ve got your back.

  3. Melissa Ridlon says:

    I created a Spanish language copy of Presiding Bishop Curry’s statement for the community at Santiago/St. James earlier today. I’ll do your’s as well. Thank you.

  4. Margaret Trezevant says:

    Thank you Bishop Marc. Exactly right!

  5. Patrick Andersen says:

    Thank you, Bishop Marc.

    And in regard for the request for “balance” above, let’s start that discussion with the Associated Press’s fact-check of the president’s speech. Mr. Trump does not give a straight-forward presentation of facts:–politics.html

  6. Priscilla Johnstone says:

    Thank you to Bishop Andrus. While some respondents voiced displeasure after the Episcopal News article on our recent Eco-Justice gathering, surely as Episcopalians we can all agree that we do not want to go back to the unhealthy smog-laden cities and industrial areas that made so many people suffer from respiratory issues. It is not an extremist position to want our families to breath clean air and drink safe water. We know from experience that corporations don’t always do the “right thing” regarding disposal of toxic wastes, hence the need for industry regulations. We share a beautiful planet, it is our only home and we must take care of it for ourselves and for generations to come. I am proud of our church and Bishops for our commitment to be good shepherds of our home.

    • Ari Wolfe says:

      Beautifully said, Priscilla – thank you. I grew up in LA in the 70s. I remember how horrible and frightening it was staying indoors with all the windows shut and a towel under the front door on Smog Alert days, when the air wasn’t safe to breathe… and I still have occasional asthma attacks from it nearly 40 years later.

      We’ve come so far and need to help keep our air, water and the rest of the environment clean; especially for others near and far who are still suffering and struggling to do so. The president may not be willing to participate in stewardship of the earth, (which I can’t quite wrap my brain around), but it’s our responsibility with or without him. We’ve been given this beautiful planet and need to protect it – not only for ourselves and our children but for our brothers, sisters and neighbors all across it. Our president doesn’t speak for me – but I’m happy that the leaders and members of our faith do!

    • M. J. Wise says:

      The Paris Agreement doesn’t have anything to do with smog or water quality. You exhale the very toxin the Paris Agreement is supposed to control…

  7. Margaret Nolde says:

    Does anyone know why Marc Andrus’ title is listed as the Bishop of California? The Diocese of California is the original and oldest diocese in the state, but now there are 5 additional dioceses in California. So it seems to me that the title Bishop of California is incorrect. I would think it would be Bishop of the Diocese of California. I am interested in knowing why the title is listed the way that it is at the end of the article.

    • Lynette Wilson says:

      We often refer to bishops as the bishop of California, New York, Texas, etc., when it’s their diocese. Of course, in each case, there are other dioceses in each state. There’s nothing more to it than that. I have, however, inserted the word “diocese” for clarification.

      • The Rev. Dr. Hanns Engelhardt says:

        This problem would not arise if bishops were generally named after their see city according to the general use before the foundation of the Episcopal Church. Then, the “Bishop of California” would just be the Bishop of San Francisco and on the same footing as e. g. the Bishop of Los Angeles or the Bishops of Bethlehem, Indianapolis, Olympia or Rochester (NY).

      • Margaret Nolde says:

        Thanks for the clarification!

  8. George Pilloton says:

    It is not correct to equate rejection of the Accord with lack of caring for the issue of climate change. For example, China is now emitting double the U.S., but yet the Accord grants China a pass until 2030, but not the U.S. In those 13 years, China can build coal plants etc which obviate the benefits of the Accord. (It is also debatable whether the Accord wasn’t a treaty in the first place, requiring 2/3rds of the Senate.). In 2016, the continuing strong emissions decline in the U.S., driven by market forces not international diktats, is the reason emissions globally did not increase, notwithstanding China’s actions. In other words, if the globe is serious about emissions, then we need action that deals with China, whose emissions, only a few years ago were less than ours. Hence, note: the Accord was seriously flawed.
    Having said all that, we should all act as we wish, and the Bishop’s call is good. But we should also deal with facts, not easy truisms and myths about climate change…just the facts!

  9. Cynthia Cravens says:

    James Grumet, President of the BiPartisan Policy Center, said during a recent PBS News Hour interview that the Paris Accord was, in essence, a collection of 200 individual promises made by nations around the world…promises that individual nations proposed themselves…for themselves. These are voluntary commitments, and the nations that sign on have the right to return to those promises and adjust them to changing conditions.

    So, President Trump was not happy with the promises that the PRC made for itself about climate change reduction? Then, President Trump could have changed the promises made on behalf of our country in response.

    But, should President have even been worried about the promises that the PRC made on its own behalf?

    Although you are undoubtedly correct that, overall, China emits double the carbon emissions than does the United States, had you considered the notion of carbon emissions per capita? In 2011, in the United States 17.62 metric tons of carbon dioxide were emitted per person, whereas in the PRC, only 6.52 metric tons of carbon dioxide were emitted per person. (Sorry I don’t have access to more recent data — this was from the Union of Concerned Scientists, and 2011 was the last year indicated).

    In considering the question of Paris Accord fairness, one cannot simply focus on or compare nation states as individual entities; land mass, national wealth, and, of course, population size must also be considered.

    In effect, President Trump. his policy team, and his followers simply did not understand the Paris Accord; or, they had other priorities that took precedence over any concern that they may have had about climate change (assuming that they are, indeed, concerned about climate change).

  10. I am a registered Republican who did not vote for the current President, a lifelong Episcopalian, an agnostic with regard to the belief that humankind is the PRINCIPAL cause of climate change, and a delegate to the Diocesan Convention for the past five years. I only cite these aspects of my background to show that not everyone who sits in the pews agrees with the politics of the clergy or the Bishop. Permit me to state a few minority opinions.

    It is possible to agree with both President Trump’s action and most of Bishop Andrus’ statement.

    If trends are already favorable, if people are generally behaving well, then my opinion is that government should not try to “help” matters with laws, rules, and regulations. Two examples of when government made things worse:

    1) California mandated the use of MTBE as a gasoline additive in 1990; there is evidence that MTBE is a carcinogen, and when it leached into the groundwater the clean-up proved costly. If there had not been a mandate, the problem would have not existed.

    2) Environmentalists caused the banning of incandescent bulbs and the substitution of energy-saving compact fluorescents. The latter’s high mercury content exchanged current human health and safety for the putative long-term benefit of reduced greenhouse-gas emissions. Mercury-free LED bulbs are now coming into their own, but can we honestly say that government made things better with the CFL mandate?

    Even if one believes in anthropogenic global warming, it isn’t necessary to issue an EPA directive that bans coal-fired power plants.

    Thanks to fracking, market forces are causing the conversion of coal to natural gas. Falling costs have also caused more businesses and homeowners to switch to solar energy, and, what I personally am most excited about, the rapid advances in batteries and other storage technology can allow us to go completely off the grid without the cost being prohibitively high.

    Outlawing coal spawns resentment of the elite who fly to Paris climate-change conferences on private jets, then tell everyone else that they have to cut back on their driving. However, if coal is retired due to market forces, the culture is more accepting.

    By the way, here’s a quote from the EPA website: “Greenhouse gas emissions in 2015 (after accounting for sequestration from the land sector) were 11.5 percent below 2005 levels.” (I would be happy to listen to arguments that the reduction was due to Paris.)

    I don’t get why the Church is so enamored with passing laws that force people to behave. Exhort people to do the right thing, and lead by example – that has been the best Way for 2,000 years.

  11. Bill Louis says:

    The outrage in the comments on this page are a joke! The EDN took down the story about the Episcopal Executives Council meeting a 4 star Hilton Hotel in San Juan. Thirty eight plus members plus the PB flew commercial to the island to a 4 day conference to discuss the next convention but none of you had a word to say about that. You all are hypocrites!

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