Trump's copped out of Paris: so it's up to us to make the climate deal a success

Roxanne Desgagnes/Unsplash

President Trump has stated his intention to take the United States out of the historic Paris climate agreement. While 195 countries came to an agreement that serious, concerted action needed to be taken to reduce carbon emissions, it seems that Trump could not bring himself to join them. His campaign mandate, America First, continues to be the presidential slogan, as the rest of the world looks on in horror.

This may well be Trump's ultimate legacy, so long-lasting and far-reaching are the consequences. But, we simply haven't got the time to wallow in what could have been.

Yes, it's tragic that a rare moment of world unity has been abruptly cut short by one man who refuses to listen to blatant facts about the shift in global temperatures. That moment when the accord was universally agreed, as world leaders hugged and cheered each other was a beautiful and moving sight. Trump though believes he can stand exempt from an issue which will surely affect every citizen on the planet.

Yes, I'm disappointed Trump can't see the amazing potential of the renewable energy sector, the jobs and prosperity that will be created by going zero-carbon. That making America great again won't come about by becoming more insular, but leading the world in a progressive, fairer and greener future. He's missing a chance to be part of building a better world, but he's also depriving America of a booming business opportunity.

Yes, it breaks my heart that his children, and his children's children, will ask him why, when he could have acted to prevent the devastating impact of global warming, he chose to look the other way.

Trump's imminent decision must propel us to further, collaborative action, not less. Now is the time to stand up, speak out and live differently to ensure we achieve climate justice.

If the longest lasting legacy of his time in office is an environmental policy which wrecks havoc on the earth's atmosphere; surely we want our generation's legacy to be the opposite. So when our children's children ask us what we did when we understood the science that 97 per cent of climate change is man-made, we can answer with confidence. We chose to speak up with those experiencing increased droughts, devastating floods, unpredictable rains and failing crops. We chose to live sustainably within our means not taking more than our share. We chose to switch our energy to renewable, eat less meat, use the car less often and reduce the amount we fly. We chose to live consciously, mindful of the most vulnerable communities and protective of the earth's precious resources. We chose connection and togetherness.

Already we are seeing the rest of the world respond to the news with increased fervour to work together to reduce carbon emissions as China and the EU state they will form a new alliance to stick to the ambitious targets of the deal. This is the kind of effort we need to applaud and get behind. While America risks increased isolation and regression, we can still forge a global movement to reduce the impact of one of the greatest challenges of our time.

The Church's role is unequivocal; millions of the world congregation of Jesus believers are already daily being hit hardest by the consequences of climate change. Their livelihoods are dependent on the land; if the rain doesn't fall or falls too much, their crops are ruined. And if it rains and doesn't stop, they're forced from their homes. Their daily prayers are for survival in a shifting and fluctuating landscape.

As Christians, we have a God-given mandate to look after creation; we are family with those suffering the impact of our own consumeristic, disposable lifestyles. This isn't an isolated issue; it's far reaching, unruly and must be tackled universally. We can't afford to focus inwards; we must continue to work outwards with others to change our habits and mindsets, to find new, radical solutions.

There is much to celebrate in the movement for climate justice and the Church is increasingly playing a leading role in this groundswell of support for an environmental revolution. From the Big Church Switch which encourages people to switch their energy supply from fossil fuels to renewables, to eco-churches which receive awards for meeting a range of green criteria for their buildings, teaching, campaigning and lifestyle choices to the increased fervour from Christians being unleashed in global divestment advocacy.

Perhaps the greatest opportunity that arises from what I believe is Trump's biggest mistake to date is the profile it gives to the issue. I hope and pray that this Sunday preachers will be talking creation care from the pulpit; that in our small groups and prayer triplets, we'll be discovering what the Bible has to say on the topic and our prayers will focus on the task ahead; that post church coffee chat and trips down the pub, will be peppered with the language of activism. Would we reconsider our everyday actions with a new interest, realising that we must now change our attitude and behaviours - and that is our worship to the Creator. Then we'll prove to Trump, America and the world not only do we believe in the Paris deal but we will do everything we can to make it a success.