In a pre-recorded interview before the service, Archbishop Halapua said: “We are here, because the leaders of the world are here. It is about action. Not tomorrow. Today!”
In his sermon, the Archbishop spoke of his childhood in Tonga, when he would join his father on a tidal island to fish for their family, and how, on returning to visit the island last year, he could see that the palm trees were dying from the salination caused by rising seas.
“Humanity’s greed and merciless abuse of the planet earth, our only common home, is causing immense damage. Climate change is impacting on the sea level rising, and causing unpredictable storms, uncontrollable floods,” said Archbishop Halapua.
“For some of us from the Pacific Island States, the truth is as plain as writing on a wall, our land and livelihood are drowning while others refuse to see. How can we say to our grandchildren, the home you were to inherit and were told about is destroyed? Where is justice for them and for others?”
The Archbishop was in Brisbane representing the 85 million-strong global Anglican Communion as part of the Oceans of Justice campaign, a worldwide campaign led by the Anglican Alliance calling on the G20 to urgently discuss the issue of climate change.
The campaign included a petition signed by Anglicans from more than 40 countries that called on the Australian Government to make discussion about climate change a high priority.
“We are deeply grateful to US President Obama for his actions over the past few days that have brought climate change to the top of the agenda despite the best efforts of the Australian Government to prevent it,” said Archbishop Halapua.
“We pray that this momentum will continue. For vulnerable communities in the Pacific and other places around the world who are already experiencing the impact of climate change, it is a matter of great urgency.”
The final G20 Leaders’ Communiqué from their meeting in Brisbane on 15-16 November makes a clear statement on climate change:
“We support strong and effective action to address climate change. Consistent with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its agreed outcomes, our actions will support sustainable development, economic growth, and certainty for business and investment. We will work together to adopt successfully a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the UNFCCC that is applicable to all parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris in 2015. We encourage parties that are ready to communicate their intended nationally determined contributions well in advance of COP21 (by the first quarter of 2015 for those parties ready to do so). We reaffirm our support for mobilising finance for adaptation and mitigation, such as the Green Climate Fund.”
The Oceans of Justice petition was sent to the Australian Government by the Right Reverend Nicholas Holtman, Bishop of Salisbury and the Church of England’s Advisor for the Environment, accompanied by a letter requesting that the Australian Government show leadership on such a crucial issue.
For more on the G20 and the Oceans of Justice campaign see:
In the picture: Archbishop Winston Halapua preaches at the service in Brisbane
Photo credit: Anglican Board of Mission – Australia