Government, Church need to get serious about climate: Synod

Motion urges "deepened sense of urgency" in action on climate change

By Stephen Cauchi

September 12 2017The Federal Government should act with a “deepened sense of urgency” over its commitment to the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, according to a motion passed by the Anglican Church’s General Synod last week.

The motion also called for the Church to “get its own house in order by actively seeking to reduce its carbon footprint” and “be a more active participant in the climate change debate”.

The motion was moved by the Very Reverend Dr Peter Catt, Dean of St John’s Cathedral Brisbane.

The 2015 Accord seeks to limit the increase in global temperatures caused by climate change to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, with an aspirational goal of 1.5 degrees.

As part of the Accord, the Coalition Government has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030.

However, the United States’ withdrawal from the Accord has led to calls from some coalition backbenchers for Australia to do likewise. The Government’s support for the Adani mine in Queensland has also led many to question its commitment to carbon reduction.

In his motion, Dr Catt described the Paris Accord as “overly modest”. 

“It seeks to address just one small - in the overall scheme of things - part of the climate challenge that faces us,” he said.

Humanity was now consuming more resources than the planet was capable of producing, he told the Synod. 

“Overshoot day is the day each year when humanity has consumed all the resources that the planet produces in one year,” said Dr Catt.

“In 1970 it took 365 days for humanity to consume all that Earth produced in that year. A decade ago overshoot day was reached in October. This year we reached that milestone on August 2.

“This means that for the rest of the year we will be consuming the earth’s reserves.”

Consequently, “our way of life is therefore unsustainable and is leading to the degradation of the planet at an increasing pace.

“Against that backdrop the call to reduce carbon pollution is a very modest proposal indeed.”

 Dr Catt said the motion asked for three things:

  • For the Federal Government to act with a deepened sense of urgency to develop policies and practices that would allow Australia to achieve the reductions in carbon pollution it committed to at the Paris Climate talks in 2015.
  • For the Church to get its own house in order by actively seeking to reduce its carbon footprint and the footprint generated by its investment portfolios.
  • For the Church to more fully take its place in the public square and to be a more active participant in the Climate Change debate. And for the church to bring to bear the rich resources it possesses such as its theology of the environment in the Climate Change debate.