Demonstration against Trump's climate decree © Erik Mcgregor
With his new environmental decree, U.S. President Donald Trump is not moving the United States forward – he is making it very small, said Pastor Klaus Breyer, board member of Climate Alliance Germany, on our site interview. He says his behavior is deeply immoral.
U.S. President Donald Trump wants to overturn the requirements for emissions from coal-fired power plants set by his predecessor Obama. Yesterday he signed a decree to that effect while visiting an environmental agency in Washington. EU commission regrets.
Interviewer: Rev. Klaus Breyer, board member of Climate Alliance Germany, how did you feel when you heard that?
Pastor Klaus Breyer (Board Climate Alliance Germany): One is hardly surprised by now, but of course one has to say that Trump, if he undoes this "Clean-power-act" of his predecessor, that he is not moving America forward, not making it big, but making it small. Just as climate change cannot be eliminated by presidential decree, it does not stop at the borders of the United States. So I think Trump's behavior is deeply destructive and immoral.
Interviewer: Shouldn't Christians in the USA now stand up, speak out and fight resolutely for the integrity of creation in their country??
Breyer: I think that's already the case in many places, and it's also the case that this decree doesn't determine whether or not the U.S. will continue in climate action. There are many initiatives, including local church initiatives. There are municipalities, there are states that are moving forward with climate protection, and the U.S., of course, is not yet saying goodbye to the Paris Agreement with this decree. So nothing is lost. I think Christians, too, must now say more clearly that climate protection is a task that belongs to our faith, that creation must be preserved, and that climate protection is a central part of this, so that people in the North and South, present and future generations, can live in dignity.
Interviewer: Pope Francis' encyclical "Laudato si" is, after all, about environmental and climate protection. Has their content already reached the people, the Catholic and Protestant Christians in Germany??
Breyer: He's given us a lot of tailwind and he's sort of broadened the base of people who are interested in environmental and in global ies. I believe that it has long been recognized that we Christians bear responsibility not only for our own lives, but that we must also find a way together to take responsibility for ensuring that people can continue to live well in the future. In this direction, the Pope has once again sent a very strong signal. No one should shirk responsibility: not the industrialized countries, not the people in affluent societies, but emerging economies and developing countries, too, must find their way.
Interviewer: If you now look specifically at the two large churches in Germany, do you have the feeling that the ie of climate protection, environmental protection, the integrity of creation, as we Christians always call it, has been sufficiently addressed??
Breyer: I think it has already arrived very strongly, it is not the central ie in this German election campaign at the moment, but we have been working for about 15 years now with an increasingly strong movement of people in the churches who are both politically committed to effective climate protection that will also enable people to live a dignified life in the future, and we are of course also working in our own institutions to ensure that we make our contribution to reducing CO2 emissions, that climate protection also makes further progress in the area of the church. I think we are on the right track.
It is also the case that churches are increasingly trying to invest their money, their pension funds, in a sustainable way, and it has also recently become a major ie whether the churches should not participate in investment campaigns, i.e. whether they should consciously withdraw from all the industrial enterprises that have to do with fossil fuels, that make their profits in this area with gas, oil and coal. I think these are very important signals, and we must certainly make further progress. But I think we are on a good course. But we have to stay tuned.
Interviewer: And if we have to keep at it, and here we take the worldwide perspective again, what would have to happen in their eyes, so that the church really gets a louder voice, which is heard even more?
Breyer: We must network even more strongly, we must speak out even more strongly ecumenically at the major climate conferences. However, we must also exchange ourselves locally much more strongly about how we articulate ourselves as churches on a state political level, on a federal political level or on a European level for a sustainable future. I think there is still some possibility open, we should also use the possibilities.
The interview was conducted by Hilde Regeniter.