Uniting Church leaders support Pasifika call for Australia to get serious about climate action
Just last month Australian Climate Change and Energy Minister Chris Bowen visited Fiji. He was there in part to bolster support for Australia and Pacific nations hosting COP 31, the annual UN climate conference to be held in 2026.
But a full-page ad in the Fiji Times, placed by Pacific leaders, made the case for Pacific nations to defer supporting Australia’s bid. Their reason? Pacific leaders wanted to see Australia make more concrete progress on ending support for fossil fuels.
Pacific leaders stated that the impacts of climate change (sea level rise, heat, food insecurity etc.) are not a distant concern. “They’re happening here and now”. And support for more coal and gas projects- as Australia is still pursuing, is the very thing driving the crisis.
It is not only leaders in the Pacific who want to see Australia take more responsibility and action to reduce the use of fossil fuels. Uniting Church Pasifika leaders have been making those calls, concerned about climate impacts in the Pacific but also in Australia. And they haven’t just been talking, they have been acting – living out the commitments in the Synod Climate Action Strategy which our Synod established in 2019, and the faith convictions that undergird them.
Last year more than 200 people joined in a Uniting Church Pasifika led pre-election climate forum at Penrith Panthers, with Shadow Minister for Climate, Chris Bowen. In response to that colourful and passionate gathering, Chris Bowen agreed to meet again on climate in the next year. That event, the Pasifika Empowered 2023 climate forum will be held on Saturday 7 October from 2.00pm – 4.00pm at Olympic Park, in conjunction with Fiji day celebrations.
The theme of Pasifika Empowered is climate change and its impact on the cost of living and our hopes for a good future – both for the Pacific but also for people here. Pasifika leaders are especially concerned about those communities more vulnerable to climate disasters and which have fewer resources to adapt to climate change. They also want to stand with First Nations peoples in calling for a just transition that is sustainable, and respects and learns from, indigenous people’s wisdom about caring for country.
The two-hour event will include a welcome from newly installed Moderator, Rev. Mata Havea Hiliau, music and singing and Pasifika theological reflection. Importantly, there will be personal stories of climate impacts, both here and in the Pacific, and a series of questions on climate action put to Minister Bowen.
Pasifika leaders have said they want a good and cordial relationship with the Minister, but they feel compelled to press for stronger action, not just in reducing emissions here, but in dealing with the huge volumes of fossil fuels Australia exports each year. For our Pasifika leaders, care for the earth and all its life is a Gospel imperative as well as a response to existential threat.
Pasifika Empowered 2023 is open to Uniting Church members and all in the wider Pasifika and general community concerned for stronger climate action.
Seats for the event are limited, so if you want to be a part of it, register here.
If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Jon O’Brien in the Uniting Advocacy team at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0477 725 528.