Caring for the environment

Special Assembly 2022 supported the recommendations that the Council of Assembly:

a) Establish a working group for an initial period of six years to:  
i) promote initiatives to help the various part of the Presbyterian Church reduce carbon emissions by 5% per annum
ii) report to the General Assembly regarding how the Church is progressing in reducing carbon emissions
iii) in due course recommend to the General Assembly steps that could be taken to further the objective beyond the six years.
b) Adopt a framework to monitor carbon emissions of Assembly operations, make best endeavours to reduce carbon emissions of Assembly operations by 5% per annum, monitor progress in achieving that objective and report progress to each General Assembly until 2030, taking advice from the work group if it is deemed helpful.

  • Supported the proposal that the Presbyterian Church become a denominational partner of Eco Church NZ and that individual presbyteries and parishes be encouraged to join Eco Church. Eco Church NZ was launched in 2020 by A Rocha Aotearoa New Zealand as a network and resource centre for churches engaged with caring  for creation. It began in the United Kingdom and is thriving in many parts of the world. Eco Church is free to register. All that is required is a statement of intent. Among the benefits of joining is a self-review process for mission planning, a subsidised programme for zero waste, networking events and resources for engaging with children and youth on ecology and biodiversity projects.

  • Passed a motion that all ministry units within the Presbyterian Church undertake the A Rocha Eco Church survey and choose one action point from each suggested area to complete over the coming year. The suggested areas are: worship and teaching, church buildings, church land, community engagement and sustainable living. 

General Assembly 2018 made a decision about responsible stewardship of God's creation.

Assembly decided to commit to reducing our impact on the environment, acknowledging the important role we as Christians play in being stewards of God’s creation. Further, Assembly endorsed a list of achievable and measurable actions aimed at reducing our collective impact on the environment.

Assembly agreed that the list of actions be sent to every congregation, church schools, and social service agencies with a connection to the Church to report on their progress of implementation. The report to Assembly, including list of actions, can be read here.

General Assembly 2016 adopted the “We Say Yes” statement, which includes reference to the Church's beliefs about caring for creation:

“We say yes to a sustainable and zero carbon economy: we say no to policies and practices that contribute to unsustainable growth such as dependence on fossil fuels and excessive lifestyles. Therefore we advocate movement towards clean and sustainable energy and action to limit destructive human impacts on the environment.”

General Assembly 2014 declared investment in the fossil fuel industry to be unethical, socially irresponsible and contrary to the Church’s mission of “caring for creation”. At this time, the Church requested that its Property Trustees, who manage the major funds of the Church, consider divesting from fossil fuel investments. Read more

General Assembly 2008 accepted a declaration on the climate and environment prepared by the Church's Ecological Task Group. Read more

The Church supports the Government’s ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, and we advocate for the ordering of our lives – as individuals and organisations - around sound principals of sustainability. We urge the Government to reiterate NZ’s anti-nuclear stance by condemning international plans to use nuclear power as a means of mitigating greenhouse emissions. We also urge the Government to hasten its development of strategies for the treatment and reduction of emissions caused by our agricultural sector, which causes most of NZ’s emissions.

What is the Church doing

  • See more on what the Church is doing to Care for Creation here.
  • Congregations have been encouraged by the Church’s governing body, General Assembly, to audit their environmental footprints.
  • The Presbyterian Church has made a declaration on climate change the environment Read the Declaration here
  • The Church Leaders group, of which the Presbyterian Church is part, presented a paper on climate change “Protecting New Zealand’s environment and economy for current and future generations" to the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.
  • We make submissions on relevant legislation. Read our 2015 submission regarding setting New Zealand’s post-2020 climate change target. Read the submission