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The Paris Climate Accord: Protecting our Earth for Future Generations

[caption id="attachment_967" align="alignright" width="200"] Blog by Justice Promoter Kelly Litt[/caption] "When you vote, think of your grandchildren. They can't vote but your decisions are going to affect their lives. One thing we know: if we don't deal with climate change now, we are going to ruin many of their chances to have a positive life. So think about your grandchildren is my advice." -- United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on how people can take climate action. I recently had the opportunity to take some time to visit a friend in California. During my trip, we went hiking at Yosemite National Park. The park was absolutely breathtaking and beautiful, yet I couldn’t help but be saddened by the possibility of the park losing funding due to potential budget cuts to the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior. Furthermore, I continue to be frightened for the future of our planet. When President Trump met with Pope Francis during his first international trip, the Pope gave Mr. Trump a copy of his encyclical Laudato Si and strongly encouraged him to remain in the Paris Climate Accord. Initiatives by the United Nations related to Earth Justice have been vast and numerous. Members of the United Nations have recognized the importance of protecting our planet and have worked to mitigate climate change for years. Yet, past attempts to bring all countries together to set caps on emissions of greenhouse gases (including the Earth Summit in 1992, the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, and the Copenhagen Accord in 2009) have fallen short due to an inability to provide funding, little political will and action, and a lack of transparency and accountability. However, the Paris Accord which entered into force in November 2016, finally brought together all nations for the first time to combat climate change. The financial details, technology, commitment, transparency and evaluation, and support for developing countries have been worked out. This critical international treaty has been signed by every country on the planet except Syria and Nicaragua, and 147 (out of 197) countries have ratified it. Despite this progress, President Trump decided to withdraw the United States from the Paris Accord even though many of his close allies and advisers encouraged him to remain in the deal. Having the United States drop out will be detrimental to the entire agreement and will cause unforeseeable devastation to our planet. As Catholics, we are called to care for God’s creation and protect the poor and vulnerable. Climate change is already damaging our planet and disproportionality harming the poor. Pope Francis calls on us to be “instruments of God our Father, so that our planet might be what [God] desired when [God] created it and correspond with [God’s] plan for peace, beauty, and fullness.” If there is a silver lining to this recent turn of events, it is that numerous companies, cities, and even states have declared their commitment to the Paris Accord despite the President’s decision. This shows both moral leadership and the strength necessary to protect future generations and the planet. Click here for a public statement issued in response to the President’s decision on the Paris Accord by the Dominican Sisters of Peace. Are you interested in engaging in conversation about the many issues impacting our Earth? Join us for a viewing of the National Geographic film From the Ashes on June 12. Click here for more information or watch its premiere on the National Geographic channel on June 25.

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