CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 9 December 2017

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Trump abandoned Paris Accord but the United States didn’t

The governor of California in the United States of America (US), Jerry Brown, spoke strongly at a gathering sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on November 4, saying that the world needs a good brainwash on its attitude towards climate change.
 
Brown has been a constant critic of the decision of the president, Donald Trump, to call his country back from the 2015 Paris Accord on Climate Change, but he is a long way from being the only one.
 
Nor is California the only state which differs with Washington on climate change. On June 6, Hawaii became the first state to pass a law committing the state to abide by the Paris Accord on climate change.
 
The state governor, David Ige, signed two bills at a ceremony at the capitol rotunda in Honolulu. One of them was explicitly geared toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with the landmark goals adopted by world leaders at the Paris Accord.
 
Hawaii is one of more than 10 states that have joined the US Climate Alliance, a coalition committed to upholding the Paris Accord despite the federal government withdrawal from it.
 
The alliance, announced by the Democratic governors of California, Washington and New York, also includes Minnesota, Virginia, Massachusetts and Vermont.
 
But it is not just Trump and his administration that are responsible for this immoral decision on climate change, the vast majority of congressional Republicans and senators applauded it.
 
Paul Ryan said in a statement, “In order to unleash the power of the American economy, our government must encourage (the) production of American energy.”
 
Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, who helped lead the opposition to the Obama administration’s clean power rule, said the move will help protect jobs in the coal industry and keep energy prices low.
 
He simply mouthed the words of Trump in saying that the Paris Climate Agreement is a raw deal for the US. He claimed that as it was signed by the former president, Barack Obama, without Senate ratification, it would have driven up the cost of energy.
 
However, the Church across the US reacted strongly to Trump’s decision. Speaking on behalf of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Oscar Cantú, the chairperson of the International Committee for Justice and Peace, called the decision deeply troubling.
 
He said, “The scriptures affirm the value of caring for creation and for each other in solidarity. The Paris Accord is an international agreement that promotes these values. President Trump’s decision will harm the people of the US and the world, especially the poorest and most vulnerable communities.”
 
Blasé Cardinal Cupich sent out several tweets. “Climate change is real. Failing to protect the earth is not just a failure of leadership. It is moral failure.”
 
The Catholic Climate Covenant issued a statement saying that it was disappointed with the presidential decision and urged him to reconsider it.
 
Reverend Michael Curry, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, said that the Church can continue to take bold action to address the climate crisis. The phrase, “We’re still in,” became a statement of commitment for many who, regardless of this decision by our president, remain committed to the principles of the Paris Agreement.”
 
The chief executive officer of the American Jewish World Service, said, “The longer the US denies climate change and fails to take responsibility for its outsized contribution to global warming, the greater the risk posed to the entire world, especially the poorest people on Earth.”
 
Scott Wright, the director of the Columban Centre for Advocacy and Outreach in Washington, commented, “Columbans around the world stand strongly opposed to this decision. Withdrawal from this crucial agreement directly jeopardises the health and sustainability of our common home, including vulnerable communities both at home and abroad.”
 
 

• Father Sean McDonagh