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Bishops have 'no option' on climate change

Posted on: July 26, 2008 6:05 PM

The church will have to provide the necessary moral argument on tackling climate change, where the arguments of politics and economics have failed, the chair of the Anglican Communion Environment Network (ACEN) said today.

At a press conference today Bishop of the Diocese of Canberra Goulburn George Browning said that bishops have “no option” but to take up the cause of the environment, “Not because of what the world says, but because it is inherent in our faith”.

Caring for the whole of God’s environment, Bishop Browning said, was “theologically our core business”.

“If we are going to make significant progress internationally it will have to come from some moral persuasion – the arguments of economics and politics will not deliver. This is not something that is being heavily driven by any government in the world,” he said.

He criticised the political response that financial pressure on people was cited as a reason that they “couldn’t afford” to take steps environmentally.

“This is so short sighted,” Bishop Browning said. “We need to maximise the choices that are available now, and the price we will pay if we don’t is so much greater.”

Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, also spoke at the press conference, saying, “We are all interconnected… We spoke in the Bible studies today of creation as the body of God. All creation reflects the image of God, not just human beings… We’re gathered here to remind people that if we do not pay attention to all creation, the other things that concern us will be of no importance.”

Presiding Bishop Schori said that from the native peoples in Alaska and the Arctic Circle losing land to melting permafrost, to the poverty of Haiti worsened by climate change, to the increasing desertification of sub-Saharan Africa, “It is the poorest of this world who suffer the most from climate change already and will continue to suffer in the future.”

Bishop Browning’s diocese is in Australia, the largest greenhouse polluter per capita in the world, largely due to its coal-based energy industry. Canberra is also the home of that country’s seat of government.

“It is important that Australia makes maximum use of resources available to it,” he said. “I will use whatever voice I have to reinforce that.”

Lambeth Conference participants have been invited to contribute to a carbon offset scheme for their travel, the proceeds of which will fund projects in Burundi and Bangladesh.

Staff writer