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Pope has important message on climate change for New Zealand

Pope has important message on climate change for New Zealand says Presbyterian Church

The Presbyterian Church has enthusiastically welcomed Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment which addresses one of the great moral challenges of our time, climate change.

“Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods,” the papal statement says. “It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”

The Right Rev Andrew Norton, Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand, says Pope Francis has highlighted issues of climate change in the context of exploitation of the poor and the abuse of our environment.

“Many of the world’s faiths recognise the significant challenge of climate change and the urgency for action; this is why church leaders are speaking out. Nationally and internationally our faiths are uniquely positioned to encourage all people to live in a sustainable way, to encourage our governments to commit to binding climate change agreements, and to be the voice for those without a voice.”

Andrew says it is the world’s poorer peoples who are expected to suffer most from global warming. “We can see the effects in Africa of rising temperatures and drought and here in the Pacific of rising sea levels and devastating storms.”

The papal encyclical, published on 18 June, warns of “serious consequences for all of us” if humanity fails to act on climate change. It calls for renewable fuel subsidies and energy efficiency, and an end to overconsumption, loss of biodiversity and pollution.

Andrew says the papal encyclical is in line with decisions and statements made by the Presbyterian Church, including its recent submission to the NZ Government on the consultation for setting New Zealand’s post-2020 climate change target.

“The Presbyterian Church has called on the New Zealand Government to commit to a low carbon future by cutting emissions to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2025. It’s a target which will challenge both us and other nations to pay the price necessary for both the survival of future generations and of the most vulnerable nations already being drastically affected by climate change.”

Andrew says that in choosing the 40 per cent figure, the Presbyterian Church was guided by reports from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“But reducing carbon emissions is not enough. This issue is too big to be left to politicians and scientists; it is for all of us. We must ask ourselves how our culture of consumption is plundering the land and abusing the world's poor.

“Pope Francis is holding up a mirror that we may all take a good look at ourselves.”

Ends

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