The UCA Synod of NSW and ACT acts to reduce emissions across Church and state
The NSW Environment Minister, Matt Kean, declared this week that he was not going to wait until the end of summer to have a conversation about addressing climate change. He said “that conversation needs to start now”.
The Uniting Church Synod of NSW and ACT has not only started talking, but acting as well. On 10 December more than 50 people across the life of the church came together to begin the work of implementing the Synod’s Climate Strategy. The Strategy, which was proposed and supported at the July Synod meeting, resolved to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across all parts of the church and to advocate to governments for much stronger action on climate change.
The Synod leadership team has responsibility for developing and implementing the Strategy over the next three years. It was their decision to host Tuesday’s gathering of a whole of church ‘reference group’. Synod General Secretary Rev Jane Fry said, “This is a crucial issue for the life of our church and our world. We need the ideas and involvement of the whole church to make this strategy happen”.
The Reference group heard from the Moderator, Rev Simon Hansford, about why the church cares about climate change. The Moderator, declared that “climate change is happening now. We see its impact in the drought and the struggles of farmers. We see it in the fires and smoke encircling our cities and towns.” But while the scale of the challenge is new, “Care for creation has always been part of the Christian way and the faith of our Uniting Church.”
The meeting established task groups in five key areas. These include:
- Reducing Synod emissions (boards, agencies and schools)
- Reducing emissions by congregations and among church members
- Advocacy, calling for action by all levels of government
- Support for the Global Climate Strikes (initiated by young people)
- Climate anxiety and pastoral care
The groups set their initial meeting dates and the sketched the first tasks to complete. While made up of volunteers, the groups will be supported by Synod staff and members of the Uniting advocacy team.
This first meeting of people from across the Church met to set achievable targets for 2020.
Jon O’Brien is the Senior Social Justice Adviser for Uniting