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ARC Home > Faiths and Ecology > Christianity > Anglicans on Climate Change :

Anglicans on Climate Change

Canberra's Bishop GEORGE BROWNING is the Chair of the worldwide Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN). Last year, the ACEN declared that 'wilful destruction of the environment is a sin'. Some 22% of Australians belong to the Anglican Church of Australia. This report was compiled by the Climate Institute of Australia

"As Chair of the international Anglican Communion Environmental Network, it was my privilege last year to host a gathering in Canberra of Anglican bishops from all over the world. My brother bishops and I gathered to reflect on the current impact and threat posed by climate change.

"Our delegates from Polynesia and Melanesia described how low-lying atolls in Tuvalu and Kiribati were experiencing coastal flooding and contamination of fresh water; our delegates from Kenya and the Philippines reported that due (in part) to rising temperatures, there was an increase in the range of mosquitoes, resulting in more widespread malaria; we heard that further melting of the tundra in Canada’s frozen north could release catastrophic amounts of methane — an even more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.

"Delegates from Australia and Africa reported longer and more severe droughts, which, in the case of Kenya, were already affecting local food security, causing increased poverty and suffering. The storm activity in the US, Canada, Oceania and the Philippines severely affected vulnerable coastal populations. In Scotland and Wales (along with much of northwest Europe) widespread and severe flooding has occurred since 2000.

"Holy Scripture reminds us that, the earth is the Lord’s and everything in it (Psalm 24:1). All of creation belongs to God, not to human beings. We are part of the created order, and our first calling by God is to be stewards of the earth and the rest of creation (Genesis 1:28 -29).

"So when we exploit God’s creation to breaking point, we break the most fundamental commandment known to us: out of our greed and selfishness, we knowingly cause the degradation of the world’s ecosystems instead of protecting the design that issues from the Creator’s generosity. Wilfully causing environmental degradation is a sin.

"The Christian faith is certainly about personal salvation. But it is more than that: Christianity is first and foremost a concern for the whole of the created order — biodiversity and business; politics and pollution; rivers, religion and rainforests. The coming of Jesus brought everything of God into the sphere of time and space, and everything of time and space into the sphere of God. All things meet together in Him: Jesus is the point of reconciliation.

"Therefore, if Christians believe in Jesus they must recognise that concern for climate change is not an optional extra but a core matter of faith. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has warned that our continued failure to protect the earth and to resolve economic injustices within and between societies will lead not only to environmental collapse but also to social collapse. One of the Millennium Goals was to make poverty history by 2015, but unless we stop climate change, this great aim will be just an empty dream. Indeed without action now, we will assuredly make poverty permanent.

"Therefore, I ask Australians to:

 Take targeted and specific actions to assess and reduce our environmental footprint, particularly greenhouse gas emissions. Such actions could include energy and resource audits, land management, just trading and purchasing, socially and ethically responsible investment.

 Promote and commit ourselves to use renewable energy wherever possible, preferably by purchasing green energy off the grid.

 Turn off unnecessary electrical goods; reduce use of heating and air-conditioning; retrofit energy saving devices, including light globes. Appliances on standby can use approximately 10 per cent of total electricity.

 Be aware of water usage. There are government rebates of up to $500 for purchasing rainwater tanks, grey water systems and other water-saving devices. Appropriately used, grey water can save 20 per cent of a household’s water.

 Press for urgent initiation of discussions leading to a just and effective development beyond the Kyoto Protocol, which includes all nations.

 Bring before governments the imperative to use all means, including legislation and removal of subsidies, to reduce greenhouse gases.

"It has been said that if the total world population enjoyed the same lifestyle as the most affluent in Australia or the United States, we would need seven Planet earths to sustain us.

"We are privileged to live in a wonderful world. We can abuse that privilege, or we can rise to the challenge climate change presents. The potential for success — or failure — is both stark and global. God’s grace has been poured generously into our hearts. It is reflected in the bounty of the natural order. Let us cherish these gifts, and do our part to leave the world in better harmony and justice than we found it."

Rt. Rev. GEORGE BROWNING is Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn, Chair of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, and a member of the Climate Institute’s Advisory Committee. The Anglican Church of Australia is part of the Anglican Communion, an international community of Anglicans in over 160 countries.

This document is one of 16 faith statements collected by the Climate Institute Australia, who invited faith groups to make statements about the issue of addressing climate change. The book was published on December 2006, and was a bold step for a secular organisation to take. The full text including all the statements can be downloaded here. by linking to:

The Climate Institute (Australia) Ltd
Level 2, 263 George Street
Sydney, NSW 2000 Australia
Phone: +61 (0)2 9252 5200

A message from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams at the time of the Bali COP in December 2007.

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