Representatives of the Pacific Anglican Church are in Brisbane to reinforce the message of a global petition signed by Anglicans from more than 40 countries that calls on the Australian Government to make discussion about climate change a high priority.
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.
“We applaud your recent decision to grant some acknowledgement of the importance of climate change at the summit,” said Bishop Holtman. “As the Church of England’s lead Bishop for the environment, backed by so many thousands of signatures from around the Anglican Communion, I implore you to do more.
“Our petition was gathered at the request of our brothers and sisters on the Pacific Islands, in Australia’s neighbourhood, demanding action on climate change from the world’s leaders. This call is joined by the Anglican Communion and Lambeth Palace, representing around 85 million Anglicans in the world.”
The Most Reverend Doctor Winston Halapua, Primate and Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, said he had come to Brisbane to reinforce the message sent by Bishop Holtman.
“Climate change is not something that might happen in the future – it is affecting Pacific communities right now. All across the Pacific vulnerable communities are planning for relocation as their ancestral lands are poisoned and homes washed away by the rising oceans.
“Our cultural heritage in the Pacific connects us to the moana [ocean] – it is an abundant source of life for us and we in Oceania are called to be faithful custodians of the gift of our environment.
“There is great need for the world’s leaders at the G20 this weekend to acknowledge that what happens to islands in the Pacific Ocean has far-reaching significance. The prophetic voices of the people of the Pacific are a warning to the world that climate change is real and its effects are being felt most acutely by some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
“We urgently need the wealthiest nations of our world to address the two key issues of climate change – how to help people who are being affected right now, and how to slow it down so it doesn’t get any worse.”
Tagolyn Kabekabe, Pacific Facilitator for the Anglican Alliance working with the Anglican Church of Melanesia in Solomon Islands, has joined Archbishop Halapua in Brisbane. She said: “In Solomon Islands, we are already seeing atoll-based communities under threat from rising oceans and increased natural disasters caused by climate change. We need action, and we need it now. Doing nothing is not an option. The global community as a whole has a responsibility to respond to this crisis.”
This call for action was reinforced by a statement released by the Anglican Primate of Australia, the Most Reverend Doctor Philip Freier, Archbishop of Melbourne, in which he said: “In the longer term there are vast challenges, such as managing climate change, global population growth and movement, international conflict, food security, water, and potential epidemics.
“It is essential that the countries taking part [in the G20 meeting] look beyond their own short-term national interests and seek to address these challenges in a concerted and effective way.”
Oceans of Justice is a joint campaign of the global Anglican Alliance in conjunction with Australian agencies the Anglican Board of Mission and Anglican Overseas Aid. It is based on the words of the Old Testament prophet Amos, who said: “Do you know what we want? We want justice – oceans of it. We want fairness – rivers of it. That’s what we want. That’s all we want.” Amos 5:24 (The Message)
Archbishop Winston Halapua and Tagolyn Kabekabe are in Brisbane and available for interview until Sunday night.
Media Contact: Call David Cook on 0448 816 900 to arrange an interview.
Archbishop Halapua grew up in Tonga and is now based in Fiji. Tagolyn Kabekabe grew up in Solomon Islands, where she is currently based, but she has also lived and worked in Papua New Guinea.
Archbishop Halapua and Tagolyn Kabekabe will be taking part in a special church service on Sunday to mark the G20 and the call for climate justice. The full text of Archbishop Winston’s sermon will be available to media on request.
Sunday 16 November
Service 1: 7:30am
Service 2: 9:30am
St Augustine’s Anglican Church
56 Racecourse Rd, Hamilton.