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Climate Justice Workshop at Conference 2021

I would like to begin this article with this quote from Sonja Klinsky, who is an Associate Professor and Senior Global Futures Scientist at Arizona State University, “Climate change has hit home around the world in 2021 with record heat waves, drought, wildfires and extreme storms.  Often, the people suffering most from the effects of climate change are those who have done the least to cause it.” (NZ Herald, Tuesday, November 9, 2021) Climate justice is an ideology and notion that has been formulated to combat the injustice that the polluters and the emitters of carbon dioxide have been imposed on the poor nations and the endangered species of the world.  It is the most vulnerable members of the creation, both humans and other species are the ones who are unjustly affected by climate change. 

Whatever your opinion with regards to the climate crisis, evidence proves that the whole of the human community contributed to the pollution and carbon dioxide emissions.  No one is innocent for we have all contributed to the natural disasters that we experience and witness in our world.  Presenters at the workshop identified that New Zealand is one of the polluters of our environment.  Therefore, our government and our society should work together to find a way to mitigate global warming and to enhance the sanctity of life that God has purposely created since the beginning of time.  The Methodist Church of New Zealand is a vital part of our society and we should put our effort together to contribute to a solution or a pathway that can restore the groan and pain of our mother earth.  Perhaps, that’s why President Andrew Doubleday suggested that we should have a workshop on Climate Justice for we cannot remain silent any longer as we have contributed to the climate crisis. 

Dr 'Elisapesi Havea in her presentation invited us to work together for it is not too late to heal the damage that has been caused by human activities in the world.  Te Aroha Rountree reminded us that we are the environment and the environment is us, ko tātou te taiao, ko te taiao ko tatou. Dr Emily Colgan drew our attention to the role of the church as people who are standing on the tradition of prophets and of Jesus Christ who proclaimed a message of justice for the weak, powerless and the marginalized.   Lives of loved ones have been lost, homes and properties are ruined, people are displaced and endangered species are threatened.  There were three areas for the discussion groups to focus on, which are; worship, policy and politics.  Reports from the discussion groups were diverse but there were common themes that came out very strongly such as; A green day, where our whole church should participate in planting trees or collecting rubbish in our local communities; creating and sharing resources on climate justice for our Sunday worship; investment in companies that are eco-friendly; utilize solar panels on our church buildings; encourage members of our church to start using electric vehicles and public transport and sending submissions to the government on matters that relate to climate justice, just to name a few.  There was a strong suggestion that young people should take a lead for our church on this matter for they have the energy and passion. On behalf of the Climate Justice Working Group, I would like to thank the presenters, the facilitators and all those who participated in the group discussions for their wisdom and openness.  Your thoughts are valued and will be shared around rohe, synods, and parishes.  Hopefully, by Conference 2022 we will come up with a suggested decision that will become our collective voice to proclaim justice for the vulnerable individuals and communities that are affected by global warming. Presenters reminded the Conference that we cannot afford to wait any longer for the damage that has already happened to our environment. 

We must act quickly and strategically for we are all in this together to mitigate climate change. After the workshop where we were all engaged, I would like to ask a question similar to the question that Jamie Morton asked after COP26 Conference, “So COP26 is over.  Will it make a difference?” (NZ Herald, Monday, November 25, 2021) A similar question that I would like to ask is, “Our Climate Justice workshop is over.  Will it make a difference?”

 

Siosifa Pole

Climate Justice Working Group Chair