The Episcopal Church commits to Paris Agreement, joins We Are Still In

With leadership and support from the San Francisco-based Episcopal Diocese of California and its bishop, The Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andus, The Episcopal Church has taken the significant step of affirming its commitment to the Paris Agreement, the landmark global climate accord struck in at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2015 (COP21). The move to continue supporting the multi-national accord, despite the United States' 2017 decision to retreat from the pact, was reached through a series of measures adopted at The Episcopal Church's 79th General Convention in Austin, Texas, July 5-13.

By officially declaring its ongoing commitment to the Paris Agreement, The Episcopal Church has joined "We Are Still In", said Bishop Marc Andrus, who leads Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's annual delegation to the U.N. Climate Summit and is a newly-appointed member of the We Are Still In Leaders' Circle.

Photo of Bishop Marc outside United Nations Headquarters in New York

 "It is possible that The Episcopal Church is the first denomination to join the partnership of businesses, cities, states, regions, faith bodies and tribes working together to keep the United States commitment to the Paris Agreement," said Bishop Andrus.

A witness to the Paris Agreement's historic signing ceremony at United Nations headquarters in New York in 2016, Bishop Andrus also serves as co-chair of The Episcopal Church's Advisory Council on the Stewardship of Creation. At The Episcopal Church's July 2018 General Convention, Bishop Andrus helped write and put forth a number of successful resolutions committing the denomination to the work of the Paris Agreement. Those measures include:

  • A018 Episcopalians Participating in the Paris Agreement The measure resolves that The Episcopal Church will continue to fully and completely "advocate for a fair, ambitious, and binding climate treaty” and will participate in future meetings of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Individual Episcopalians, church congregations, and Episcopal institutions are encouraged to support the Paris Agreement through energy conservation, renewable energy, sustainable food practices and gardening, and other sustainable lifestyle choices.
  • C008 Advocacy for Creation Care The resolution supports the adoption of a web-based carbon tracking tool being developed in the Diocese of California. Similar to popular applications that help people track what they eat and their exercise, the tool will educate and support Episcopalians in their efforts to make sustainable lifestyle choices. The new tool can be previewed atdiocal.org/climate.
  • A010 The Planting of “Paris Groves”  The measure commends each of the 85 camps and conference centers in The Episcopal Church to establish “Paris Groves", plantings of trees that will serve as a visible witness to the significance of the Paris Accord and do the practical work of sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere.
  • C063 Ocean Health The resolution makes the health of the world's oceans a key environmental priority in The Episcopal Church. The measure also also affirms support, welcome, and advocacy for environmentally-displaced people coming from the Pacific and the Caribbean.
  • A030 Affirm the Work of the Episcopal Church at the United Nations The measure encourages Episcopal Church representatives to the United Nations to make full use of their Economic and Social Council consultative status, which allows them to provide input to policy and decision makers at the U.N. The measure also encourages Episcopalians to support and advocate on behalf of the U.N. and its work.
 
Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop and Primate Michael Bruce Curry, who spoke at the royal wedding in May, credits Bishop Andrus for helping deepen his understanding of environmental stewardship. "Marc is one of my teachers," said Bishop Curry at a General Convention reception sponsored by the Diocese of California on July 9, 2018.
 
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry with Bishop Marc Andrus on stage at CA night


At that gathering, called "Celebrating Earth and the Cosmos", Curry referenced the historic eco-justice sermon he gave at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco on May 19, 2017, at Bishop Andrus' invitation. "That (sermon) really was the fruit of conversations that we had been having for a number of years and a real evolution in opening me to understand the profound interconnectedness of the creation." 

Bishop Curry also thanked Bishop Andrus and the San Francisco-based Diocese of California for their leadership around the care of creation, "which we know is in jeopardy. There is no question about that," Curry said. "It is not receiving the kind of support from our government — our federal government — to be sure."
 
To encourage people of all faiths in their efforts to curb climate change, the Episcopal Diocese of California will co-host a multi-faith service marking the start of the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco. More details about the September 12 service at Grace Cathedral can be found here.