This week’s reflection is by the Archbishop of Melbourne, the Most Revd Dr Philip Freier.
Earlier in the week, I was on a national telephone linkup to talk about the Anglican Communion’s response to the forthcoming COP 26 International Conference on Climate Change in Glasgow. This takes place from the 31st of October through to the 12th of November. I expect we’ll be hearing a lot about it.
It was heartening to hear the experiences of Anglicans throughout the world and very distressing to hear some who speak about the impacts of climate change on them. Like us in Australia we know some of the extreme events of weather that have been affecting people. Particularly the tragedy of people in the low lying places in the Pacific islands and other places where their whole livelihoods, their whole continued existence of their communities is entirely threatened by sea-level rise. But it was encouraging to hear the determination appeal from a diversity of places, not just places of privilege and first world countries, but many different experiences to make a difference to such an important thing.
One of the bishops I spoke to, who is in Myanmar, spoke about an aspiration that they have to plant a tree every year for every person. Even though the Anglican Church is only a small community there, they’ve got a big aspiration for that to become influential in the whole community.
People bit by bit, we want to make a difference. And I’m looking forward to being encouraged by hearing the Prime Minister whilst he’s travelling overseas reveal some more of the determination from Australia to reduce carbon emissions. I think that will happen, and I think that the matters around the relationship with France, the negotiation with a free trade agreement with the European Union will put pressure on Australia to come out with a clear declaration about some commitments before the COP 26 conference. I hope that will be the case.
In many ways, we have embraced at a community level a high degree of acceptance of renewable energy. The presence of rooftop solar in various forms, generating electricity in more northern climates providing hot water is so widespread. And now with the Australian locally produced automobile industry not being continued, we’ve got an incredible opportunity of requiring that our imported vehicles are hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles. We have some real opportunities with the right policy settings to make a very significant contribution, which picks up the sentiment of ordinary people to want to make a difference so the world can be sustainable so that we can pass on a world that is liveable, fair and just for future generations. Because the impact of climate change will probably be experienced unequally throughout the world. Those who have an advantage will often be in situations where they can, at least for a time preserve that advantage, but the most disadvantaged will suffer greatly. So there is both a justice issue, as well as the sustainability and the stewardship of creation issue.
Please pray for those who will gather for this meeting, COP 26. Pray for their commitment to do the hard work, the hard negotiation to come up with agreements that people will feel really bound to, especially in those societies which have been standing off this. We know there are some large nations that have been standing somewhat apart from this process.
And pray that in our own local context, that we can seek to be people and make a difference. I’m glad to see that there are a number of churches in the Diocese of Melbourne that have been able to participate in renewable energy schemes, and we’re looking to see if we can make that more widely available. Because we live in a place, throughout most of Australia where we have ample opportunities of coming to better and more completely rely on renewable energy sources.
As you make that journey, as others make their journey to speak on their behalf. Let’s hold our prayers for a sustainable society, that we might be good stewards of God’s creation. And for justice to be shared amongst all God’s people.
May the Lord Jesus bless you keep you watch over you and protect you this day and forevermore, Amen.