Media CenterCRS Disappointed in Administration’s Decision to Pull out of Paris Climate Agreement

Photo by Nancy McNally/CRS

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Nikki Gamer
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]
(443) 955-7125


Decision’s Far-Reaching Effects Disproportionately Affect the World’s Poor

WASHINGTON, DC, June 1, 2017 – Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is greatly disappointed in today’s announcement that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.  

“As an international humanitarian organization, we are confronted with the realities of climate change every day and see the devastating impact on the lives of the people we serve,” said Bill O’Keefe, vice president for advocacy and government relations for CRS.  “People around the world – especially those who contribute least to global warming, will be worse off because of today’s decision.”

The Paris Agreement calls on the 195 participating countries to set voluntary reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, which are a key factor in driving global climate change.  If the world does not set a path to reduce emissions, then drought, floods, and severe storms will pose a disproportionate threat to poor people in poor countries.  

“In the countries where we work, climate change is not some distant threat. The impact is now and every day,” O’Keefe said. In Bangladesh, rising sea levels are encroaching on water tables and swallowing coastal homes.  In Central America, coffee farmers are losing their crops due to more frequent drought and because warmer temperatures help pests thrive.

“It’s the poor who are suffering, and are forced to migrate elsewhere to make a living.  Real consequences are happening now, and have contributed to current global crises CRS and the United States are responding to.”

In 2015, Pope Francis issued Laudato Si, his encyclical on the environment and care for creation, with the hope that it would spur the world to come together around the Paris Agreement.  He has since noted that the adoption of the Paris Agreement “represents the important awareness that, faced with issues as complex as climate change, individual and/or national action is not enough; instead it is necessary to implement a responsible collective response truly intended to ‘work together in building our common home.’”

O’Keefe continued, “Withdrawing from the Paris Accord is a terrible and we hope reversible mistake; American leadership is absolutely necessary on this critical global issue and we hope the President’s message of working towards rejoining the agreement and addressing climate change is a sincere one.  We believe that we can both grow our economy and respond to the Holy Father's call to care for creation."

CRS and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have been calling on the Administration to remain in the Paris accord, and to continue to robustly fund humanitarian and development programs – including the Green Climate Fund – that helps poor communities adapt to the changes in their climate.

"We must hear the cry of the poor.  Withdrawing from Paris and cutting foreign assistance is a double whammy to millions around the world.  Without American leadership--imperfect as it is--problems fester, people suffer, and in the end we too feel the effects of instability, forced migration, and conflict,” O’Keefe said.


Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, please visit or and follow CRS on social media: Facebook, @CatholicRelief@CRSnewsYouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.

Nikki Gamer

Senior Public Affairs Manager

Nikki Gamer
June 1, 2017

Based in Baltimore, MD

Nikki is the Senior Public Affairs Manager for CRS and connects journalists to regional stories and sources related to the agency’s life-saving development work. Previously, Nikki worked as the Communications Officer for the Middle East, Europe, and Central Asia. She has covered CRS’ response to the Syrian refugee crisis and the mass displacement...More