Church leaders urge bolder action on climate change

20 November 2009

In the lead up to the Copenhagen climate summit New Zealand Church leaders are urging bolder steps by the whole community in the country’s efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions, and are calling on political leaders to strive for the strongest commitment by the international community at the summit.

Following a meeting with the Prime Minister last month, the leaders – from the Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist and The Salvation Army Churches –have released a statement outlining the environmental and economic impacts of climate change, particularly on vulnerable members of the global community, and the importance of immediate action by the whole community.

The Church leaders applaud the steps taken so far by the present and previous government, but state that they do not feel that the urgency of the situation is sufficiently understood.

Catholic Archbishop John Dew of Wellington says the world is “perched on the brink of a Kairos moment” – a moment which in scripture is a moment of opportunity, grace and truth.

“Scientists warn us that the window of opportunity for change is now very narrow. Our world has the choice right now to embrace simpler lifestyles or to have them forced on us and other people by necessity. We hold in our hands an opportunity for change that future generations will not have,” he says.

The statement draws on the Stern report, a report produced for the British government on the impact of global warming on the world economy, to describe the costs and benefits of acting now, using existing technologies, rather than delaying action until later this century.

“As Churches, we are particularly concerned about these increasing disasters and rising costs, because they impact disproportionately on the poor and weak in our community and globally on people in developing countries, including the small island states in the South Pacific,” the leaders say in the statement.

“However, it also concerns us that rarely do we hear from the Government and the media about the economic costs of doing too little, and the benefits from cleaning up the environment, and of tackling climate change”.

The Church leaders will join with the World Council of Churches in calling on all churches throughout New Zealand to ring their bells at 3pm on Sunday 13 December, midway through the United Nations summit in Copenhagen, to call people to prayer and action in the face of climate change. 

Read the full statement “Copenhagen climate summit – a Kairos moment”  and the paper the Church leaders presented to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister on 13 October 2009 titled, "Protecting New Zealand’s environment and economy for current and future generations", prepared by Dr Kevin Tate FRSNZ, with additional writing by Dr Lynton Baird.

Church leaders:

The Right Rev Dr Graham Redding, Moderator, Presbyterian Church
Commissioner Donald Bell, Salvation Army
Archbishop John Dew, Catholic Church
Archbishop David Moxon, Anglican Church
Alan Upson, Methodist Church
Rodney McCann, Baptist Church