“We chose to fight climate change rather than drown”

Media Release November 27th 2015
Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia
 
“We choose to fight climate change rather than drown”  

 
The Anglican Bishops of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia have issued a statement urging collective and immediate action to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.  
 
The statement from the bishops comes ahead of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris that begins on 30th of November. Also known as COP21, it is the 21st Conference of Parties  – the annual meeting of countries that this year will seek to achieve a universal and legally binding agreements on climate change.
 
The Rt Rev’d Dr. Winston Halapua, Archbishop of Polynesia, says the areas that he walked and fished as a boy with his father, seeking food for his family, on the island of Pangaimotu in Tonga have now gone. 
 
“The rising sea level speaks loudly for action. For some of us from Polynesia the truth is as plain as writing on the wall. Our land and our livelihood our drowning and others refuse to see it,” says Archbishop Winston Halapua.
 
“How can we tell our grandchildren the home they were to inherit has been destroyed? There is no justice in that so we are fighting rather than drowning,” says Archbishop Winston Halapua.  
 
The bishops say climate change is undermining the stability of nations and the
effects are being felt acutely in the South Pacific.  The statement reads:
 
The Earth is God’s gift to humanity and to all creatures. In unity with Pope Francis we “forcefully reject the notion that our being created in God’s image and given dominion over the earth justifies absolute domination over other creatures.” As humans endowed with reason we are not the controllers and possessors of nature but its servants, just as we are servants of each other and of God.
 
The bishops say there is no doubt that human activity has upset the delicate balance of physical and ecological systems upon which all life depends, and that humanity is beginning to reap what it has sown.
 
The bishops say Jesus calls people to love their neighbor and in the same spirit the needs of the Pacific Islands and other communities acutely vulnerable to climate impacts should set the terms for what is agreed at the Paris negotiations.
 
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