Category Archives: Climate Caretakers

Cold Weather Calls for Warm Hearts

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Snowy city

Record cold weather across the U.S. underscores the danger posed by a changing climate.

Most of the lower 48 has felt like the Arctic the last couple of weeks. And though the cold snap has finally broken for most of us, experts are already calling for the bitter air to tighten its icy grip next week.

I don’t know about you, but these cold snaps are difficult for me. Given the general misunderstanding that weather is the same as climate (which it isn’t) and that popular expectation that global warming will make people lived experience well, warmer, freezing temperatures always feel like they take the wind out of the sails of climate action.

Just when I think we’re making progress in the church, a fellow parishioner jokes about the cold outside with a dismissive, “Global warming, huh?” as we shuffle through the icy wind to our cars after service.  Just when I think that general perception is reaching a tipping point, our own president tweets out ignorance and misinformation that is liked and retweet by hundreds of thousands.

But then the words of Paul call me back to hope. Hope in the truth that the work of shifting public opinion or of convincing every last person–whether a fellow church goer or the President of the United States–is not ultimately down to me. Hope that persistence and compassion are more powerful than ignorance and cynicism.

So if you too feel discouraged this week, remember the words of Paul. Remember that warm hearts can withstand any cold snap.

God of hope, our trust is not in governments or public perception, but in you and your coming Kingdom. When we feel discouraged in the work of educating and advocating for a stable climate, give us perseverance. When our hearts are cooled by apathy or disinterest around us, reignite them by the power of your Holy Spirit. May your will be done in your world as it is in heaven, and may we continue to be your servants, never tiring in doing what is right.

To Whom Much is Given…

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“Much is required from the person to whom much is given; much more is required from the person to whom much more is given.” (Luke 12:48b GNTD)

The United Nations climate conference is a beautiful menagerie of people from literally every nation and culture on the planet.  Walking through the halls one hears dozens of different languages.  We are all here as a unified body of humanity to combat a truly global problem that requires us all to work together.   That’s the beauty of the Paris Agreement—it brings every nation into a collaborative framework characterized by a positive spirit of hopeful action.  Well… almost every nation.

While we are all united in our effort, we are not all equal in our culpability, nor in our capacity to solve the problem of climate change.  Those of us living in wealthy, industrialized nations have been blessed with much.  Unfortunately, it is our wealthy lifestyles that serve as the primary contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, and thus to global warming.  In contrast, impoverished nations—who do not contribute toward the problem—suffer the most from its impacts.

Tuvalu is one such nation.  Tonight I met up with an old friend, the Reverend Tafue Lusama, who is here in Bonn to represent the nation of Tuvalu at the global climate summit.  Rev. Lusama was speaking on a panel entitled “Pacific Night for Climate Justice,” which helped bring awareness to the plight of his people, who live only a couple feet above sea level.  In fact, according to current best estimates, the nation of Tuvalu will only be inhabitable for another generation or two before sea level rise submerges this low-lying island nation entirely.  At that point, his people will have no homeland.

This is what is meant by “loss and damage.”  Loss and damage refers to the reality that impoverished countries with fewer financial resources are suffering disproportionately from climate change.  Just as when a plaintiff in a court case seeks “damages” for unjust suffering, the people of Tuvalu rightfully deserve to be compensated for the losses that we have caused them.  Loss and damage is one of the stickier aspects of the Paris Agreement, but it’s also one of the most important when considering issues of justice.

“I would like to travel less frequently, but I must represent my people to the world,” the reverend emphasized to me after the panel.

IMG_9168 2

One thing that seems clear to me is that our efforts to solve climate change are not commensurate with our contribution to causing it.  And it is the most impoverished in the world—people like those living in Tuvalu—who suffer loss from this discrepancy.


  • As the second week of the COP begins, pray that progress will be made on identifying a mechanism that can account for loss and damage. Pray that wealthy countries will step up their efforts and make greater contributions for those who are most severely impacted. And pray for the people of Tuvalu and other low-lying island nations who are on the front lines of climate impacts.

Faith and Action at COP-23

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In 2015, the world gathered in Paris to form one of the most important diplomatic accords in human history.  The Paris Agreement, which was signed by 196 nations, relies on voluntary greenhouse gas reduction commitments in order to turn the tide on climate change and avoid the worst repercussions of this global problem.

The agreement admittedly falls short of limiting global warming to a “safe” operating temperature (a 1.5- to 2.0-degree Celsius temperature rise).  Nevertheless, it forms a critical starting point by setting a global standard of accountability, providing adaptation assistance for those who most need it, and using positive peer pressure to increase ambition over time.  More importantly, the Paris Agreement represents the first truly universal climate accord, with participation from nearly every nation on earth.

Next week the 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP-23) is being presided over by the nation of Fiji and will be held in Bonn, Germany.  Fiji, like many other island nations, sits at the front line of climate impacts as their aquifers, shorelines, homes, and islands are threatened by sea level rise.  Yet despite their extreme vulnerability, Fiji (like other impoverished nations) has contributed very little to the problem.  Instead, greenhouse gas emissions from wealthy countries like the U.S., Canada, China, and the European Union serve as the primary cause behind human-caused global warming.  This discrepancy is the reason we’re traveling to Germany next week with a coalition of four North American Christian organizations.

Together for Faithful Climate Action at COP-23 will bring together Climate Caretakers, Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, the Climate Witness Project, and Citizens for Public Justice as we aim to mobilize awareness about climate change as a Christian issue.  We believe that our Christian faith compels us to respond in compassion with those who are impacted by climate change, and particularly for those who are the most vulnerable.

This year’s conference will particularly focus on the issue of “loss and damage.”  This concept refers to the negative impacts caused by climate change to the most impoverished countries and seeks to identify just and equitable avenues for addressing this problem.  This discussion comes at a particularly sensitive time given the recent decision by the United States to abandon the Paris Agreement.  Now, more than ever, we need to see a strong and unified support for the Paris Agreement and for bold and just action on climate change.

We stand together for climate action because of love for our local and global neighbors, because of our desire to see God’s creation restored, and because of our love for the Creator and Sustainer of this beautiful world.

Will you join us?

Over the next two weeks we’ll send daily email updates, post actively on social media, participate in local events around Bonn, and host daily live broadcasts from Germany.

Sign up here to receive daily email updates during the COP-23 climate conference (November 5 – 17), and be sure to check us out regularly on social media!

Caring for One Another in Irma’s Shadow

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By: Lee Anne Johnson, a Climate Caretakers in Ft. Myers, FL

There’s a terrible pit-of-the-stomach feeling that accompanies an approaching disaster. Before Irma, I had only experienced it second-hand, such as neighboring cities devastated by a tornado or flood. When my husband and I lived Kenya, a lack of seasonal rains would become drought, and drought became famine. This hit closer to home, because friends were affected and we were part of coordinating relief efforts, but I was still physically insulated from the disaster by my comparative wealth. Worst case, I could always drive to Nairobi and get supplies from a supermarket there. Not to mention, I could stop at an upscale shopping mall while I was there, have a glass of wine at a restaurant, and forget the troubles of the world altogether for a bit.

Many of us in Florida, myself included, watched with dread as Hurricane Irma ravaged its way through the Caribbean and turned north toward us. I quickly murmured prayers as I watched news stories of fuel and water shortages, or gathered containers for water, or packed my most treasured items (drawings of our kids done by a dear friend, a hard drive of digital baby photos). Natural disasters are unpredictable. In as much as we have developed technologies to control the world around us, we still can’t predict what exactly will happen with a hurricane. The uncertainty I felt produced lurching prayers asking God for safety, for lives to be spared, or for divine protection for all who would be affected.

Water has a remarkable ability to store heat. Hurricanes are driven by warm ocean waters – the warmer the ocean surface, the more energy to “feed” the hurricane. Our tropical climate naturally predisposes us to a yearly hurricane season. Over the years, as our climate has warmed, most of that heat energy gets absorbed by and stored in the ocean. The extremely warm waters of the Atlantic basin powered Hurricane Irma, allowing it to reach a sustained size and magnitude that has never been witnessed before. This year, two category 4 storms have ravaged the U.S. within two weeks of each other. Is this a symptom of climate change? Is this to be our “new normal”? Quite possibly. As an individual interested in both science and faith, I know that environment is changing and that the brunt of this change will be shouldered by those living in poverty worldwide.

Natural disasters bring out the best and worst in people. The worst is due to fear, and I get it. The sheer scope of Hurricane Irma made fearing for our survival a reality. And fear makes people hoard and fight over resources. I also witnessed incredible kindness as people went around neighborhoods helping board up homes, volunteering in shelters and offering people places to stay through the storm. Community buoys us up and is a physical embodiment of God’s spirit; it’s one of the ways He provides us comfort and strength to get through the really hard times in life.

While my family and friends came out of Irma relatively unscathed, I know others who weren’t as fortunate in our community. The devastation and loss of life caused by Hurricane Irma was much worse throughout the Caribbean.

As we look toward what the future potentially has in store, I hold onto the hope of both faith and science. Our faith reminds us of the inherent love that God has for all people and His creation. I hold on to the hope that we can use the ingenuity of science and the power of community to find ways to both care for God’s people and care for God’s creation. These two things do not have to be mutually exclusive. People of faith are poised to be a driving force for reconciliation in our world, demonstrating that we can be both climate caretakers and caretakers of one another.

Hurricanes and Climate: How to Respond to Irma and Harvey

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In the past few weeks we’ve seen two horrific storms batter the United States and many Caribbean Islands.  Our hearts and prayers go out to the millions impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  As the damage is still being felt, consider these astonishing statistics:

  • Harvey dropped 52 inches of rain on Cedar Bayou, TX, setting a new all-time record for U.S. rainfall.
  • Harvey was so strong that the storm continued for a record 117 hours after making landfall—the previous record was 54 hours.
  • Irma sustained wind speeds of 185 mph for a record 37 straight hours, shattering the previous mark set by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.
  • Irma set a new record for the highest wind speed and lowest barometric pressure of any Atlantic hurricane.
  • This is the first time the United States has been hit by two category 4 hurricanes (the second highest level) in the same season.
  • Texas Governor Greg Abbott estimates the costs of Harvey between $150 – $180 billion, far exceeding Katrina ($108B) as the costliest hurricane in U.S. history.  While it’s too soon to tell about Irma, it’s highly likely the storm damage will land in the top 10 for costliest U.S. storms in history.

That we would see two of these storms within weeks of each other is unprecedented.

Or is it the new normal?

Hurricane strength is driven largely by two factors—relative humidity and ocean temperature.  Warmer air holds more moisture, thus providing more water for storms.  Likewise, 93% of the global heat content added to our planet since 1955 has been absorbed by the oceans.  Hurricanes, even strong ones, are nothing new.  But these two changes are supercharging our hurricanes—setting the stage for more Harveys, Irmas, and Katrinas in the future.

The relationship between climate change and hurricanes is much more nuanced than this, but we can certainly state that rising global temperatures play a role in the superstorms we have experienced this month.  If you want to learn more about the relationship between climate change and hurricanes, we are planning a webinar on the topic during the last week of September.  Look for an email soon with more information.

What can you do about hurricanes and climate change?

Option 1: Pray.  Millions of people have been impacted by these recent storms.  Homes and businesses have been destroyed; crops ruined; infrastructure devastated; and many lives have been lost.  In particular, several Caribbean islands have been particularly hard hit, including Barbuda, St. Maartin, the Turks and Caicos, and the Dominican Republic.  Prayers is powerful, and these people need it.

Option 2: Bring it up.  Don’t be afraid to make the connection.  Putting the two together isn’t politicizing a natural disaster; it’s using science and education to help avoid future disasters.  See this link for sample social media posts you can use.

Option 3: Help those who have been impacted by Harvey or Irma.  Many experts recommend giving monetary donations (rather than gift donations) to help in disaster response situations.  A monetary gift to a trusted organization is much more likely to directly benefit someone in need than clothing or stuffed animal donations, which have to be sorted, stored, and distributed—often costing money and creating more work than benefit.  Not sure where to give?  Check out the “Go Fund Me” Harvey and Irma pages, where you can give directly to on-the-ground, local efforts.

Option 4: ADVOCACY CORNER: Call your Member of Congress’s office and ask them to do something about Harvey and Irma by acting now to reduce our carbon emissions.  No need for a fancy speech.  Simply tell them that you’re concerned about the connection between climate change and hurricanes and then ask for one of the following:

  • Join the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus (House only) – Hint: Make sure they’re not already on it before asking them to join.  If they’re a Democrat, ask them to find a Republican to join with them.
  • Advocate for the removal of tax subsidies for fossil fuel corporations in the next budget
  • Ask them to support a bill that puts a price on carbon-based fuels and then returns that revenue back to American households as a dividend

Hurricanes and Climate: Social Media posts

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Not sure how to make the connection on social media between hurricanes and climate change?  Try these sample posts:


  • Irma was the strongest Atlantic hurricane ever.  It’s time to take climate change seriously. #CCaretakers
  • Praying for those impacted by Irma! Praying also that we begin to #ActOnClimate to avoid even worse. #CCaretakers
  • Damages from Harvey & Irma likely in the hundreds of billions.  Climate action suddenly seems to make a lot more sense. #CCaretakers
  • Concerned about the link between Irma and climate?  Join #CCaretakers to pray for and act on climate change.
  • Did you know that ocean temp and relative humidity drive hurricane strength, and that both are increased by climate change? #CCaretakers


  • Many people may be wondering whether Hurricanes Harvey or Irma have anything to do with climate change.  This informative article explains what we know and don’t know about the connection.
  • I’m praying for those impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.  But I’m also speaking out about the links between climate change and stronger hurricanes because I don’t want to see more destructive storms like these.  That’s why I’m part of Climate Caretakers, an organization devoted to pray for and act on climate change.
  • Climate change is a serious problem that is causing massive impacts on our country.  Hurricanes Irma and Harvey were both fueled by warmer than usual ocean temperatures, a product of our warming planet.  Will you join me to pray for and act on climate change?

Living with Trees

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By Doug Satre of Plant with Purpose
This Labor Day weekend I enjoyed doing a lot of typical long-weekend activities–attending my daughter’s soccer game, extra time with friends, and catching up on sleep. I also knocked out a bit of late summer yard work, which for me always involves some time with my trees. Our family has a pretty small suburban plot, but we have managed to fit in a dozen or so fruit trees nestled in various corners of the yard – a few apple trees, avocados, figs, lemon and something called a mandarinquat. (A cross between a mandarin orange and cumquat that produces an egg-shaped fruit that one eats skin and all.)

At this time of year there are a variety of chores to do, including pruning, thinning fruit, checking for pests and fertilizing. While there is no escaping that taking care of  our trees has lengthened to my to-do list, it has also enriched my life in many, many ways. Here is a partial list:

  • Caring for trees has helped grow my understanding of one very important aspect of God’s creation. I find that the closer I get to something, the more I understand it, the greater sense of intimacy and appreciation I have. I really do love my trees, and believe that sense of stewardship is what God calls us to as creation caretakers. They have taught me more about seasons, and patience as I watch fruit slowly and anticipate the rewards of the harvest. (It’s so much more rewarding than just buying fruit from the store, and makes me more careful about wasting food, too.)
  • Caring for trees has given me a deeper appreciation for what it takes to grow food. As soon as you try to grow fruit, something will try to eat it–birds, bugs, raccoons and on and on. Like Mr. McGregor chasing rabbits in his garden, I do battle with these creatures, which mostly means trying to harvest the fruit right before they show up to eat it. Though this can be annoying at times, I’ve also learned a lot about how various animals live in harmony with trees by eating bugs, spreading seeds and taking shelter from predators.
  • Trees have enriched the biodiversity in my yard and helped me appreciate the wonders of God’s creation just outside my back door. Despite the challenges listed above, I love observing the rich variety of life that trees foster. Our yard is rich with birdlife, buzzing insects and butterflies. I need only sit still for a few moments on the patio and I am drawn in.
  • My trees have given me a greater appreciation for poor farmers around the world whose lives depend on being able to grow their own food in order to feed their families. In my work at Plant With Purpose I get to hear many of their stories, like the farmer in Haiti I met this last year who has restored his father’s degraded farm by planting trees all over it, despite limited access to water and rocky, eroded soil. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, my trees remind me to pray for him. We are partners in our love and appreciation of trees, and in our dependency on God’s provision through his creation.

This is just a partial list! I am deeply grateful for the opportunity that God has given me to have a part to play in stewarding his creation. May we each grown closer to God as we learn to better love and care for the world that he has made.

Doug is the Director of Strategic Partnerships at Plant with Purpose, a Christian development organization that transforms lives in rural areas around the world where poverty and environmental degradation intersect.  He lives in San Diego with his wife and three kids.

Just a Normal Guy with a Couple Solar Panels

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I consider myself moderately educated on climate issues.  Through Climate Caretakers and other avenues, I’ve come to understand the threat climate change poses and the effect it is having around the world on so many people.  I realize that it would be easy for me to ignore it and just do whatever I want to do, but I also feel compelled to act on it when I can.  Not so I can feel good about myself or because someone is making me, but because there are people that ARE being affected right now by climate change because of the actions I am taking.  I owe it to them to do something about it!

Now I’m not the type of person who is likely to restructure my life completely to minimize his carbon footprint.  I’m not going to move into a Tiny House, drive only electric cars, only buy locally sourced foods, or put up a wind turbine in my front yard.  While those things are all great…I’m just not committed enough to take steps like that myself.  However, I do try to find ways to make a difference when I can.  I figure…if I’m not ready to jump in 100%…every little bit can make a difference!

One step I made last year was switch to solar electricity!  Now before you go thinking, “I’m not going to buy solar panels to put on my house”…neither would I!  Even if I wanted to, there’s no way our neighborhood Homeowners Association would allow it!  Our electric company built a solar array last year, and they offer members a chance to lease sections of it.  Basically you pay $50 per month for 2 “panels” and whatever electricity is generated by your portion of the array is credited to your account.  I didn’t hesitate and signed up right away!  I figured it probably would end up costing a little more than normal, but it would be such an easy way to make a difference with no time, effort, or investment in equipment on my part so it would be worth it.

In the winter time (less daylight) I found that we ended up paying about $15 more each month than we would normally have.  Although it was too bad that we weren’t SAVING money by doing it, I felt that was a small cost to pay to know that I was doing my part to use clean energy.  But then just recently as we’ve gone through the summer months (more daylight) I’ve found that we’re saving around $10 a month!  So overall, a good portion of our home electricity is being run by clean renewable energy.  It has taken no effort on my part, no change in behavior, and no hassle to achieve it and the cost to me is negligible…and well worth it!

If you’re like me…you want to do something but aren’t ready to change everything about your life…I encourage you to look for small things to start with.  Check with your electric company and see if they have a renewable option.  It may cost a little more, but would be an easy way to get moving in the right direction.


Give Love of Justice to the King

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“Give your love of justice to the king, O God … Help him judge your people in the right way; let the poor always be treated fairly.” Psalm 72:1-2

White House letter image (1)

I recently wrote the President of the United States to urge him not to abandon the Paris Accord on climate change. The accord was adopted by almost 200 countries – essentially the entire world. Several days ago, long after he declared his intention to reject the Paris agreement, the White House sent an email to explain Trump’s decision.

In a nutshell, the letter said, it’s not fair. It’s an unfair burden on us; it’s unfair to taxpayers and consumers if energy costs us more; it’s unfair if we have to support poorer nations through the Green Climate Fund.

We all want justice – fairness – from those in power. So does our God: “I the Lord, love justice,” we hear in Isaiah 61:8.

So as we hear the US president telling us about fairness, let’s consider some of the elements of justice impacted by climate change:

  • The average American accounts for 16.4 tons of carbon emissions per year, compared with 7.6 tons for China, and 5.0 tons for the entire world.
  • The most climate-vulnerable countries in the world generate tiny fractions of greenhouse gases per capita compared to the US – Bangladesh (0.4 tons), Honduras and Philippines (1.0 ton), and Vietnam (1.7 tons).
  • The US has become one of the wealthiest countries in the world by burning fossil fuels that have destabilized the global climate.
  • By mid-century, there may be as many as 200 million climate refugees in the world, as nations succumb to famine, drought, flooding and rising sea levels caused by climate disruption.

Whether President Trump ultimately succeeds in walking away from the global struggle to save our climate systems, let us pray for our leaders to be fair, and to take ownership of a challenge we and our parents contributed to in a major way.

O God of love and justice, we pray that you give your love of fairness to all of us who struggle to raise our voices in the public arena, and to all those in power. We acknowledge our contribution to the problems besetting your creation, and ask for grace to work for the good of our sisters and brothers around the globe.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

For further learning:


How the Paris Agreement Really Works

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Coal power plant with energy solar panels

Since last week’s announcement that Trump would be leaving the Paris Agreement, the internet and social media have exploded both with fierce denunciations and stalwart defenses of his decision.  Climate Caretakers has taken a strong position against leaving Paris—an argument which has precipitated diverse reactions.

Two things in particular have stood out to me from the comments of those criticizing our position.  First, the foundations of support for Trump’s decision rely mostly on inaccurate information about how the Paris Agreement works.  Second, the values behind such critiques reflect legitimate concerns that should be looked at.  Let’s look at the details of the agreement more closely to better understand what we’re talking about.

The Paris Agreement is an agreement between 195 nations to individually and collectively reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid the worst repercussions of climate change, which would greatly and permanently harm millions of people, countless ecosystems, and the global economy.  Unlike the flawed Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement incorporates global participation, with every country participating in emission reductions.  The agreement intentionally has no enforcement mechanism and relies on voluntary commitments by individual nations.

The only mandatory component of the Paris Agreement is for each party to report annually on their progress toward reaching their greenhouse gas reduction target.  Countries don’t even need to realize their targets to remain in the agreement—just report on their progress.

A corollary to the Paris Agreement is the more controversial Green Climate Fund (GCF).  This fund provides adaptation assistance for developing countries struggling to adapt to the climatic changes already happening.  The GCF is funded through voluntary contributions by wealthy countries, with nearly all industrialized nations participating.  The funds go to support projects like irrigation, agricultural technology, drought-resistant crops, infrastructure to protect from sea level rise, etc.  All funds go to impoverished countries and projects are monitored to ensure against waste and corruption.


So, what are some of the common misconceptions about the Paris Agreement?

It’s an income redistribution scheme

One of the primary arguments used against the agreement is that it’s really just a way to redistribute income.  In actuality, the Paris Agreement has no mandatory financial requirements for signatory nations.  All contributions are voluntary and are handled through the GCF (not the Paris Agreement).  It is permissible for any nation to stop their GCF contributions and yet still remain in the agreement.  Moreover, GCF contributions go toward projects aimed at alleviating extreme poverty and hunger, which have been exacerbated by climate change.  In addition, it’s not countries like China who are benefitting from the GCF, but truly impoverished countries like Bangladesh and Malawi, who have done nothing to contribute to the problem, but suffer some of the most severe impacts.

It disadvantages the United States vis-à-vis China

This is simply not true.  While China’s greenhouse gas reduction target is less ambitious than ours, it’s important to remember a couple things.  First, China has four times as many people.  On a per capita basis, the United States still emits more than twice as much greenhouse gases as China.  Second, China is still a developing economy.  They’re much better off than many countries, but their economy still needs to grow in order to bring hundreds of millions out of poverty.

Third, China is making enormous investments in renewable energy—pledging $360 billion over the next 4 years.  They already have more solar and wind energy than the United States.  Additionally, while much has been made of China’s polluting power plants, they’re turning around quickly.  Earlier this year the country closed down 103 planned coal plants, including many that were already under construction.  China is firmly committed to taking action on climate change.  If we abandon our commitments, we will soon take China’s place as the polluting pariah of the world.

It will cost American jobs

No statement could be farther from the truth.  The solar industry, for example, employs more people than the coal, oil, and natural gas industries combined.  In scaling back our efforts to address climate change we are only hindering our own job growth by relying on dirty, outdated energy technology that will soon become obsolete.  Experts note that the long-term cost of failing to act on climate change far exceeds any short-term costs associated with the energy transition to renewables.  In fact, financial superpower Citigroup puts the global cost of delayed action on climate at $44 trillion.

Every other country in the world is acting to address climate change, including our closest allies and our greatest competitors.  Failing to act on climate and abandoning the Paris Agreement puts us at a competitive and a diplomatic disadvantage with these countries by giving preference to losing industries at a time when the world is shifting away from such technologies.

It involves a loss of American sovereignty

Actually, every aspect of the agreement is voluntary.  Voluntary reduction targets and timelines, voluntary contributions to the GCF, etc.  The agreement was intentionally made unenforceable in order to address this concern.

It won’t solve climate change

This critique is accurate–in a sense.  The greenhouse gas reductions pledged by the 195 signatory nations are probably enough to limit global warming to around 2.7 degrees Celsius—above the red line of 2.0 degree Celsius which most experts have cautioned against exceeding. Nevertheless, because Paris is the first truly global agreement on emissions reductions, it represents a critical first step, as well as a long-term blueprint, for solving the problem.  For this reason, the agreement is a landmark achievement.  Paris alone isn’t enough, but without Paris there is no path to success.

We can renegotiate a better deal for the United States

First of all, because everything in the agreement is voluntary, there’s nothing about the current agreement that disadvantages the United States.  Second, literally every other nation on earth except two (Syria and Nicaragua) are party to this agreement–and they like it.  Finally, a large number of countries—including industrialized nations in Europe and a good portion of the developing world—lobbied for stronger targets and a more forceful agreement in Paris.   The final Paris Agreement was dumbed down primarily because of expected opposition from the United States.

In other words, many nations who are party to this agreement have already made compromises in order to accommodate us.  Remember, climate change is only a controversial issue in the United States–everywhere else in the world it’s understood to be a disturbing reality that must be urgently dealt with.  They’re not going to renegotiate a new deal unless it’s stronger.


The Paris Agreement represents a critical step in tackling the most challenging and threatening problem that humanity has ever faced.  It’s not the perfect solution, but it’s a good one.  And our planet needs it.