Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Renewal for the Whole Creation

As we mark Easter, the hope of the resurrection reminds us of our vision of a world reconciled, where all people and all creation can flourish.

This week we encourage Uniting Church members to reflect on our vision for the Renewal of the Whole Creation as outlined in our recent statement Our Vision for a Just Australia.

Our hope is that as a nation we seek the flourishing of the whole of God’s creation and work together, as Government, churches, businesses and the wider community, toward a sustainable future.

In the lead up to the election, we are encouraged to think about what policies and actions will help protect our planet into the future, in particular how we can respond to the current climate crisis.

Australia faces significant climate change impacts such as rising sea levels, extreme heat and drought, while our neighbours in the Pacific and elsewhere already suffer the devasting effects of rising greenhouse gas emissions.

Despite this, Australia continues to rely on fossil fuels and our emission levels are rising.

Government policies are failing to support the necessary transition to renewable energy despite strong public support for this to change.

The document includes a number of key actions important for us as a nation:

  1. A national climate policy that drives down greenhouse gas pollution, including no new coal or gas mining in Australia and investment in renewable energy.
  2. Just and sustainable transition for communities currently dependent on fossil fuel industries for employment, towards more environmentally sustainable sources of income.
  3. Equitable access to renewables for all Australians.
  4. Policies which support people and nations that are most vulnerable to climate change.
  5. Creating a culture where the desire to protect and sustain our environment overrides the desire to consume.

The document includes “Witness from the Bible” with helpful references to understand our responsibility to care for creation and not to exploit our natural resources.

“The exploitation of the earth, which often sees the poorest disproportionately suffering the results of despoliation and climate change is a manifestation of the sin of greed against which the biblical witnesses strongly warn (see for example Job 20: 12 – 29; Proverbs 1: 10 19; Matthew 23: 25 – 26; Luke 12: 15 – 21).”

It also refences statements made by the UCA. In 1991, the Uniting Church stated in its document, The Rights of Nature and the Rights of Future Generations: “We express the conviction that those who live today share responsibility for the ability of future generations to live in dignity, we support the attribution of rights not only to humans but also to nature, God’s creation.”

More recently, at the 15th Assembly in 2018, the Uniting Church renewed its commitment to act on climate change. Among a number of things, it resolved to encourage Uniting Church members, synods, presbyteries, congregations, agencies and schools to:

  • Listen to and learn from the voices of vulnerable people across the world who are experiencing firsthand the impact of climate change;
  • Tell stories of best practice across remote, rural and urban areas

You can read some of these stories of lived experience here.

This week thousands of people took part in demonstrations in London to demand action on climate change.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams took part in the protests and said at a meditation the night before that humans had declared war on nature: “We are here tonight to declare that we do not wish to be at war. We wish to make peace with ourselves by making peace with our neighbour Earth and with our God,” he said.