Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Pacific plea for action

Pacifc Conference of Churches General Secretary Rev. James Bhagwan at the President's Conference in Fiji Pacifc Conference of Churches General Secretary Rev. James Bhagwan at the President's Conference in Fiji

The call for Australia to take stronger action to limit climate change intensifies this week as Prime Minister Scott Morrison meets with Pacific leaders in Tuvalu, a nation whose very existence is under threat from rising seas.

Ahead of the Forum, Rev. James Bhagwan, the General Secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches, appealed to Mr Morrison calling for Australia to do more to reduce its carbon emissions and transition to renewable energy.

In an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald, Rev. Bhagwan said, “I want to remind Scott Morrison that for the people of Tuvalu – and Kiribati, and the Marshall Islands, and all the other Pacific Island Nations – nothing worries us more than climate change.

“We’ve watched as our homes are eaten away by rising tides, and as Australia allows its emissions to rise.”

“For Christians, acting to prevent climate catastrophe is not just about survival. It is about loving your neighbour and protecting God’s creation. Right now, Australia is doing far more than most to desecrate the precious gift that humanity has been given.”

“Churches from across the Pacific have long asked industrialised nations to stop burning fossil fuels and to do more to help the Pacific adapt to climate change.”

UCA President Dr Deidre Palmer has called on Uniting Church members to stand in solidarity with the Pacific islanders by joining the global climate strike on 20 September.

“We are passionately committed to contributing our voice and action toward a world in which all people, creatures and the Earth can flourish,” Dr Palmer said.

At the President’s Conference in Fiji in July, participants issued a statement supporting Churches in the Pacific.

“The island nations in the Pacific are being disproportionately harmed by climate change, and are among the most vulnerable to rising sea levels and climate change-induced natural disasters.”

“Climate change-induced displacement is already a significant challenge, and grief both to Pacific countries and across the world; disconnecting people from their homes, their culture and their identity.”

Climate change is expected to be at the forefront of discussions at the Pacific Island Forum with many Pacific leaders publicly calling for Australia to do more.

Tuvalu is made up of nine small islands with the highest point above sea level 4.5m.

On a recent visit to Tuvalu, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the nation is "on the extreme frontlines of the global climate emergency".

"Rising seas threaten to drown this island nation — a sign of what's in store for us all," he tweeted.

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