[Diocese of Melbourne by Roland Ashby] The Abbott Government is not interested in the inconvenient truths of climate change, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Australia heard today, and passed a motion urging the Government to “to respect and act upon relevant independent evidence-based scientific advice as a core basis for making decisions” in regard to climate change.
In presenting the motion, Bishop Tom Wilmot of Perth said that all the signals from the Abbott Government “denigrate science in general and environmental science in particular, which is being progressively starved of funding and excluded from important decision-making processes.
“The dismantling of the Climate Commission is perhaps the most egregious example. Similarly, the anticipated abolition of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the phony review into the renewable energy target spearheaded by climate sceptic Dick Warburton indicate that this government is not interested in inconvenient truths.”
Meeting in Adelaide, the 250-strong Synod, which includes the bishops of the Australian Anglican Church and both lay and clergy representatives from all 23 Australian Dioceses, also passed a related motion on climate change.
The motion acknowledges “with deep regret that it is future generations and other forms of life who will bear the real cost of our heavy dependence on carbon-based energy” and expresses “grave concern” that a national target of 5% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the 2000 level by 2020 “is well short of the response needed to the data presented in the recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).”
The motion also calls on individual Anglicans and Dioceses, “as a theological and moral imperative, to review their commitment to protecting the Earth and be prepared to make significant changes in the ways we live and spend.”
Speaking in support of both motions, Dr Beth Heyde, Chair of the Public Affairs Commission of the General Synod, also urged Dioceses to review their investment portfolios, and said it can make good economic sense to divest fossil fuel shares.
“The market can be expected to recognise that investments in fossil fuels are becoming very risky. They may well become ‘stranded assets,’ whose value rapidly decreases as buyers no longer want them.
“Recent reports, including one from the Australia Institute… indicate that screening [out fossil fuel shares] does not need to impact returns…”
Bishop Wilmot said that environmental awareness and action “to preserve the living systems of the planet” is not an “optional extra” but “core business for Christians”, particularly as Christians have a duty of compassion to the world’s poorest. “Overwhelmingly climate change affects the poor through impacts now being experienced: food insecurity, crop failures, threats to fresh water reserves and loss of diversity.”