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 was introducing the afternoon session of The Living Church – Synod 2019 which focused on Climate Action.
“When I was a little girl, I thought the end of the world was near. In my university days I started to think concerted human effort could provide a way forward. Now I am older, I vacillate between these two thoughts but as a grandmother I no longer have the luxury of simply holding a doomsday scenario,” she said.
The Climate Action proposal was put to Synod by Uniting Earth’s Jessica Mauthorpe and Jason John. Uniting’s Doug Taylor also spoke to the proposal.
The proposal calls for urgent action on climate change arguing previous church resolutions had accepted that the world faces a climate emergency which requires a decisive and urgent response and the church needed to do more.
A group of young people joined them on stage to speak to the proposal, 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.
Nico Tjoelker is president of Christian Students Uniting (CSU) at Sydney University. He gave an impassioned call on the Synod to consider supporting the 20 September climate strike.
“As a representative of young Christians, I want to remind (the Synod) that young people will feel the impact of this sin, and yes, it is a sin,” he said.
The proposal before Synod states: That the Synod develops a Synod-wide Climate Action Strategy to reduce carbon emissions across all levels of the Church and to advocate to the Federal and State Governments to take decisive steps to reduce our emissions nationally.
The proposal calls for the church to advocate at both Federal and State level in order to set a national emissions target in line with the best scientific evidence of what is required for global warming to be kept below 1.5oC, the absolute minimum being emissions reductions of 65% of 2005 levels by 2030.
It also encouraged the development of policies and legislation that supports emission reductions below 1.5oC by 2030.
The proposed action plan also calls requires Synod boards, agencies and schools to establish mechanisms to reduce their net emissions by 50% from 2005 levels by 2030.
It also calls for 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 that initially:
- Encourages and supports congregations to further reduce their carbon emissions
- Encourages and supports individual church members to reduce their carbon emissions and environmental footprint.
Synod members were asked to consider the proposal at its discernment groups.