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Church Leaders join those galvanizing for Climate action

Press Release – Churches Climate Network

Church Leaders and Churches Climate Network joins those galvanizing for Climate action and laments US withdrawal from the Paris AgreementChurch Leaders and Churches Climate Network joins those galvanizing for Climate action and laments US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement

5th June 2017 F.
The Churches Climate Network in New Zealand profoundly laments the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement for climate stabilization.
The US decision shows the forces of economic self interest clashing with tide of long term transitions to an economy aligned with the planet. ‘The Paris Agreement brought about global recognition of human interdependence with the biosphere and churches are taking action for the transition’ says Rev. Dr Betsan Martin, Convenor of the Churches Climate Network.

In this season of Pentecost Church Leaders speak of love and commitment to the integrity of human life in harmony with the planet. Pentecost is about relevance of the church to matters of the time.

Methodist church President Prince Devanandan says ‘Christians globally are working toward climate justice. This means all Christians, in every country, have the opportunity to advocate for climate commitments and to express the values of stewardship which are central to our faith. The US claim of leading the world in technology needs corresponding leadership for the climate. We must also consider New Zealand’s policies and our low investment in climate and reducing emissions. I hope and pray we join concerted action to leave behind a liveable planet for future generations’.

Anglican Archbishop Philip Richardson considers that “President Trump has abdicated his moral responsibility in this action. It is the people of the Pacific who will continue to bear the cost.”
The prospect of intensified exposure of the Pacific to climate change is the theme of responses from Pacific Leaders Enele Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, and Prime Minister Bainimarama of Fiji and incoming President of COP23,
Archbishop Winston Halapua, Fiji, says ‘The unfortunate decision of the President of the US reveals to me that the interests of a few in a particular part of the world blocks the opportunity for wellbeing for many other people. Such a position creates the reality of Pacific people drowning in their own bedrooms when they sleep, and drowning as they have meals and fellowship together in their homes.
The sea is rising and no individuals have the right to take away the opportunity of the future of others – neither marine life nor of people. The oceans give oxygen and are the gift of God for the life for future generations. A few individuals do not have the right to make strategic plans for the future that block what belongs together – the survival of Pacific peoples and the wellbeing of life on earth’.
Taking the perspective of Our Common Home, Cardinal John Dew says: “The decision of President Trump to withdraw from the Paris Agreement shows no concern for the rest of the world, nor for life for the long term. Pope Francis urges us to take this to heart in Laudato Si. All people, including the USA must see that the environment is not something outside of ourselves that we possess and with which we can do what we like. We all have a responsibility to care for our Common Home.”
Tumuaki of the Hāhi Weteriana, Rev. Diana Tana says ‘While it is easy to be outraged by the US withdrawal, we can look to the call of Māori as well as Paris, to ensure we pass on a healthy environment to generations to come. Such Investment is not evident in New Zealand climate policies’.
Bishop Kito Pikaahu says: ‘President Trump’s withdrawal of the US from the Paris Climate Agreement is sending shockwaves around the globe. As the most powerful nation on earth it must concern all peoples of the world. In our own backyard where Pacific peoples are experiencing the effects of climate change, this is the most challenging issue of our generation. Aotearoa New Zealand is pursuing economic growth without meaningful policies to reduce fossil fuels – while staying in the Paris Agreement. While churches, business and governments play our own parts in the global response to Climate Change, it is a real pity, and a shame, that the US are not able to act in solidarity with the whole world, the oikoumene, God’s own inhabited earth’.
Revd. Richard Dawson “As Moderator of the Presbyterian Church Aotearoa New Zealand I can only echo the profound concern of my colleagues at the withdrawal of the US from the Paris agreement. I am deeply concerned that this will encourage others to refuse to take responsibility for the human element in global climate change and that this will further delay the urgent need to address the problem by nations who are most able to effect change’.

The Paris Agreement generated remarkable solidarity on objectives to turn our economies away from fossil fuels and towards investment in low carbon pathways and energy. The process for subsequent commitment periods combines voluntary commitments with an overall incentive to safeguard life on earth as we know it.
‘Defaulting from this accord flies in the face of care for earth, our common home. The Churches Climate Network joins with others in Aotearoa New Zealand and with Pacific and global church partners in pressing forward for policies and action on our climate responsibilities’ says Churches Climate Network Convenor Rev. Dr Betsan Martin.
The Climate Network is resolved to continue working with faith communities,, with civil society, and with government to play our part for climate transitions.” – Bishop of Wellington, Justin Duckworth elaborates further: “President Trump’s decision will be harmful. But his response does not change our response. New Zealanders can still choose to love our global neighbours by acting to address climate change.”
Churches in New Zealand continue to mobilize for climate responsibility
Different areas of activity amongst the churches include education and teaching on climate responsibility and stewardship, sharing information to build a strong foundation for sustained activity, and encouraging theology for the planet in faith and worship.

Churches have been on board with key actions for change for more than twelve years – recognizing the Spirit is urging transformative action alongside theological development. Initiatives within churches run parallel to our engagement with groups and organizations leading action on climate to enlarge the scope of our contributions. People of faith in Aotearoa New Zealand, in the Pacific and globally share the imperative to respond to the urgency or our earth’s situation for the well-being of present and future generations of all life forms.

Campaigns we are involved with in New Zealand include the Generation Zero ‘Zero Carbon Act’, carbon offsets for travel, ethical investment and divestment from fossil fuels, stopping extraction of coal, oil and natural gas, advocating for climate to be in the Resource Management Act and turning away from our use of plastic..
The Anglican church is planning a carbon offset scheme for air travel which will benefit Pacific communities. This could be replicated by others. New Zealand could commit to buying carbon credits from Pacific countries as a way to further positive investment in the Pacific.
Climate change is a pre-eminent matter of our time. Rev. Dr Martin says ‘it should not be seen to be in competition other pressing matters of inequality, housing needs, poverty, biodiversity and clean waterways. Transitions for the climate are to be built into every facet of society. It is a matter of integrating all dimensions into our efforts for intergenerational justice’.
World leaders have united in response to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s call for galvanizing commitment to the Paris Agreement across a newly shaped allegiance of major parties includes President of France Emmanuel Macron, the prime minister of China, Li Keqiang, Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi
With a mind for the Pacific, Professor Feleterika Nokise says ‘the trust and hope of Pacific people for climate justice is invested in the Paris Agreement, and has been betrayed by President Trump’s decision. The current US politics cannot deter us from a universal obligation to care for and protect mother earth”. (Prof. Feleterika Nokise is Principal of Pacific Theological College, Fiji).

The US decision has implications for indigenous peoples. President Obama stopped the Dakota Access Pipeline. This aligned with the Sioux Tribe who had been protesting against the pipe line and the destruction of the environment and more fossil fuel development. At that time this was reported as ‘ angering Trump allies’.

Dr Adrian Macey, Climate Policy specialist at Victoria University says ‘It is true that the loss of the US will be damaging because the US is the world’s second largest emitter. On the positive side, there is already a move towards renewable energy. The imperative of stabilizing the climate system is widely seen as the way for the future for business. Even oil companies are moving to address climate change in their long term plans. California will continue their leadership on climate change policies’.

In the lead-up to the US decision, there was significant media commentary on the business case for transitions to low carbon, a sign of the business case for investment in new economic strategies for the climate, along with a robust sustainability agenda.

In this spirit, Church Leaders and the Churches Climate Network call for New Zealand to strengthen our own action to address climate change, and align with the interests of Pacific Islands.

The Churches Climate Network includes Methodist, Anglican, Catholic, Quaker, Presbyterian, Salvation Army, members along with social and environmental justice organizations of the churches.
This article is written for media publication with the permission of all contributors
Betsan Martin

Convenor, Churches Climate Network

Aotearoa NZ

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