The Living Church – Synod 2019 has today agreed to a proposal to develop a Synod-wide Climate Action Strategy to reduce carbon emissions across all councils and agencies of the Church and to advocate to Federal, State and local governments to take decisive steps to reduce our emissions nationally.
The proposal calls for the church to advocate in order to set a national emissions target in line with the best scientific evidence of what is required for climate change to be kept below 1.5oC, the absolute minimum being emissions reductions of 65% of 2005 levels by 2030.
The proposed action plan also calls requires Synod boards, agencies and schools to establish mechanisms to reduce their net emissions.
The proposal will mean the establishment of a Climate Action Strategy Task Group to oversee development, implementation and monitoring of the climate change strategy, for a period of three years.
Synod heard feedback on the proposal that included a desire for the church to ‘listen and respect’ young people ‘so students can teach us’. There was also a desire for more communications materials for churches to help them to speak and act.
Synod members also highlighted the importance of having regional and rural representation on the task group and providing pastoral care for communities impacted by industry transition (such as towns impacted by mine closures) and for communities directly impacted by climate change.
Members also asked that resources be made available for churches to take climate action.
On Saturday, the General Secretary of the NSW and ACT Synod, Jane Fry, said as a grandmother she was determined to see the church take decisive action on climate change to give hope to future generations.
Rev. Fry introduced the afternoon session of The Living Church – Synod 2019 which focused on how the Church could develop a Climate Action Strategy. Her introduction included the voices from Uniting Church schools — passionate students who implored the Church to focus it’s attention on, and to stand up for, climate change and to take action as a Church.
The Climate Action proposal was put to Synod by Uniting Earth’s Jessica Morthorpe and Rev. Dr. Jason John. Uniting’s Doug Taylor also spoke to the proposal.
A group of young people, Bianca Rammesmayer from Pymble Ladies College, Shane Slade, Milise Foiakau, Nico Tjoelker (President of Christian Students Uniting at Sydney University), and Pacific leaders joined the proposal movers on stage to speak to the proposal and show support, including students from Uniting Church schools and University groups. They expressed concern for their futures and the importance of the church taking a leadership role, as one of the largest churches in Australia.
Ms Rammesmayer spoke about participating in the Schools for Climate Strike and the lack of care and action being taken by the government, “I believe that with the platform the Uniting Church possesses, together we can start the discussion of climate change and bring increasing awareness to a community that is yet to really experience the impacts”.
Mr Tjoelker gave an impassioned call on the Synod to consider supporting the 20 September climate strike.
“I come from a family who is passionate about science and climate change. My dad is a professor of environmental science whose major research is on the effects of climate change on Australian ecosystems. I also live in a Uniting Church student community, who unanimously understand the grave threat climate changes poses on the future of our environment, and our own lives.”
“As a representative of young Christians, I remind the Synod that in our generation’s lifetime we will suffer from the devastating impacts of the sin of human-caused climate change. We, as Christians and as God’s stewards, must act now,” he said.