Jesus commands us to “…love one another” (John 13:34) and God has given us responsibility to care for His good creation (Genesis 1:28, Genesis 2:15).
The African Methodist Episcopal Church, in 2016, by unanimous vote of the Centennial General Conference, made a clear decision to answer the call, by turning our Climate Commitment into Action. Climate Change is a social justice issue. It is a human rights issue. It is a wellness matter.
Of the millions of Americans who live close to polluting coal plants, 39 percent are low-income communities and communities of color that are most impacted but not fairly represented in the decision making processes that would lead to a clean, healthy, and prosperous environment; while we all deserve the health and economic benefits of the clean energy economy;
Climate change puts the health of children, elderly, and those with chronic illnesses like asthma at greater risk and disproportionately impacts African Americans, especially Black children who are twice as likely as white children to be hospitalized and four times as likely to die from asthma.
Our faithful in Africa are the most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change including floods, droughts, increased spreading of infectious diseases, and changing weather patterns that challenge their ability to provide food and livelihood for millions of Africans.
Our faithful in the Caribbean are especially vulnerable to more extreme storms and rising sea levels in a warming world, and these conditions especially impact the rural and urban poor, many of whom live along the coasts or in informal settlements in high-risk areas like flood plains and steep slopes (in Haiti 70% of the people live in informal settlements).
Our rural communities face particular obstacles in responding to climate change including physical isolation, limited economic diversity and higher poverty rates combined with an aging population that increases their vulnerability.
Yes, Environmental Justice cannot be deferred. With a seat at the table, the USA could continue to stand for mandatory and community-driven emissions cuts, authentic commitment to leave fossil fuels in the ground, strong human rights protections, while rejecting faux solutions such as “fracking” and “clean coal”.
What legacy are we leaving for future generations? Is it outdoor air pollution leader to a number of maladies, including death?
We strongly urge that President Trump, based on the spoken will of the people to stay in the Paris Agreement.
Bishop John F. White, President – Council of Bishops
Bishop McKinley Young – Senior Bishop
Bishop Vashti M. McKenzie, President – General Board
Bishop Frank M. Reid, III – Chair Social Action Commission