Urgent action needed for ‘code red’ warning
A new report from the United Nations global body on climate science is a “code red for humanity”.
This was the declaration of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres upon the release of the sixth Amendment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
In the new report the IPCC warns that the earth could be just 10 years from heating by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, the target set at the Paris Agreement in 2015.
The science indicates that beyond this threshold the earth will experience more serious and frequent fires, droughts, floods and cyclones that could cause devastation for many.
Responding to the report, Assembly General Secretary Rob Floyd said the message was clear - Australia and the world must take urgent action by 2030 if we are to avoid these increasing dramatic impacts across the globe.
Advocate of the Assembly Working for Justice Circle Rev Loni Vaitohi said we can no longer ignore the warning signs of the science.
“The report highlights something ominous that must be attended to with great urgency,” said Loni.
“These latest warnings are not new to those who are directly impacted by climate change, especially for people living in the Pacific who are already living with the reality of climate change.”
“Leaders in the Pacific have pushed for action to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees since 2015. As one Pacific Islander wrote – ‘which part of the memo did these gang miss out?’"
Coinciding with the IPCC report, Greenpeace has released a new report Te Mana o te Moana, The State of Climate in the Pacific 2021.
This report provides a detailed analysis of the situation for our Pacific neighbours and provides helpful but concerning analysis of Australia’s contribution to the context in the Pacific.
The report notes that if Australia’s level of ambition was extrapolated across all nations, it would result in heating of between 2 and 3 degrees, which would be disastrous for many Pacific Island countries.
What can we do?
The Uniting Church recently revised its justice document Our Vision for a Just Australia.
“This document notes that Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction target, currently 26-28%, must be much higher. 45-60% is recommended if we are to remain under the 1.5oC global temperature increase,” said Rob Floyd.
“In addition, the Australian Government is yet to commit to a net zero carbon emissions target when most of the world have committed to that figure by 2050 and begun to take meaningful steps to achieve it.”
In November the United Kingdom will host the 2021 United Nations climate change conference, COP26, in Glasgow. This is the 26th Annual Summit bringing together most countries to develop and implement agreement on how to tackle climate change.
The Australian Government will be attending, but until now has been modest in naming any commitments towards setting strong climate targets.
In the Vision document we call on the Australian Government to develop:
- A national climate policy and plan for a just, equitable and rapid transition to a low-carbon economy, that drives down greenhouse gas pollution, including no new coal or gas mining in Australia and investment in renewable energy.
- Just and sustainable transition for communities currently dependent on carbon intensive industries for employment, towards more environmentally sustainable sources of income.
- Equitable access to renewables and energy efficient upgrades for all people in Australia.
- Policies which support people, nations and ecosystems that are most vulnerable to climate change, including measures to strengthen the resilience of communities and support people and the services they rely on to adapt to the effects of climate change.
“With the release of the most recent IPCC report, the urgency is even greater.”
“You might like to write, email or telephone MPs and representatives from all sides of parliament about how their party, if in government, will encourage Australia to go to COP 26 in Glasgow with far stronger targets, policies and plans to address climate change, and then take immediate and appropriate action.”
“It is vital we play our part in keeping this world a safe, beautiful and habitable environment for future generations.”
The Assembly will continue to share resources in coming weeks, including ways congregations can take part in advocacy and prayerful action. Keep an eye out for communication around the Seasons of Creation in September.
ADVOCACY WORKSHOP: The Brisbane and Grafton Anglican Cathedrals are co-hosting a 'Reframing climate and creation care communications for Christians' Zoom workshop on Wednesday 29 September. The free online workshop is open to clergy and lay people, communications professionals and key advocates nationally.
The IPCC report outlined the effects of warming which had particular relevance to Australia, including:
- Sea levels around Australia and New Zealand, which have already risen higher than the global average, causing coastal erosion, are set to continue rising
- Fires are projected to get worse and more frequent, and fire seasons will last longer
- Heavy rainfall and river floods are projected to worsen across Australasia
- Eastern Australia is projected to get fewer days of rain in winter, but heavier rains when they do occur
- In eastern Australia, if warming exceeds 2C, then droughts are projected to increase
- Across southern Australia drought has already increased, and projections suggest that will worsen