On the road to COP26
As world leaders make their way to Glasgow for the COP26 meeting this weekend, the Uniting Church joins other advocates in appealing for a co-ordinated global response to protect the future of our natural environment and prevent further humanitarian crisis.
An online Refugee conference held last week looked at the growing number of people displaced by climate change amidst reports climate change could force around 216 million people to relocate by 2050.
It comes as the Australian Government confirmed its commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050 and a UN report warns that without stronger commitments on reducing emissions, the world faces a 2.7 degree temperature rise with catastrophic consequences.
Associate Assembly General Secretary Rob Floyd attended the conference hosted by the University of Sydney Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law.
“The conference considered the growing connection between climate change and its impact on migration patterns and in particular the displacement of people from their homes and lands.”
“Rising sea levels, changing weather patterns, floods, droughts bushfires and cyclones are just some of the factors that lead to movement of people. Climate change also makes people more vulnerable, and less resilient in the face of challenges, and more likely to need to move in search of safer, more secure places.”
“We heard from speakers from across the globe who urged that the migration of people, especially under such circumstances, must not be seen as a security threat or a reason to close borders, but instead an important opportunity to help people find resilient solutions to their situations.”
“For some, that might be helping them return and rebuild. For others it will mean helping them find safety in other places, often requiring negotiation and significant hospitality from receiving communities.”
“Australia, in partnership with other nations, must be willing to play its part in offering such hospitality and the resources necessary to support such migration.”
The conference included Pacific Island representatives who spoke of the need to support their communities to make the decisions they need to make for their families and their communities.
Pacific Conference of Churches General Secretary Rev James Bhagwan is among advocates who are travelling to Glasgow for the COP26 meeting representing the voices of those most impacted by climate change.
“We ask for your prayers, we ask you to continue to talk to your State and Federal Governments about to committing to the Paris Agreement, to committing to maintaining 1.5 degrees and committing to phasing out fossil fuels, to committing to climate finance and to paying attention to the displacement of your Pacific brothers and sisters,” said Rev Bhagwan in an appeal to Australians for their prayerful support.
“Above all we need each one of you to make a personal pledge to the ecological conversion that is needed, we need to change the way we live and we need to encourage others to change the way we live, so that we may live sustainably and live in harmony with this planet.”
Uniting Church communities are invited and encouraged to think about ways they can operate more sustainably. The Assembly recently shared two episodes in the Towards Zero video series led by Assembly Theologian-in-residence Rev Dr Ji Zhang exploring how our faith leads us to action on climate change. The resource provides practical ideas and tools for reducing emissions.
“We encourage Uniting Church communities to engage with this resource and to think about their own actions to care for creation," said Mr Floyd. "One way you might do this is to appoint a climate change champion in your community. The Assembly would love to hear what you are doing and can share the resources and experiences from our own climate action plan and commitment to net zero emissions.”