Three local church Ministers have challenged Liberal candidate for Gilmore Andrew Constance for expressing concern about climate change in his fire-affected electorate, while simultaneously refusing to name a specific target for cutting emissions that he would push his party to adopt.
Reverends Kath Merrifield, Linda Chapman and Andrew Watts say they asked both Mr Constance and sitting MP Fiona Phillips to come out in favour of a target of cutting emissions by 50% by 2030, in line with what the world’s leading scientists agree is needed. Both have declined. Mr Constance has said that he would push his party for a stronger target but told a faith delegation this morning that he won’t say by how much.
“Andrew Constance talks about climate action but is very vague about the follow-through. He speaks passionately about his commitment to climate action and says his own party’s target is not strong enough and that he will push his party for a stronger one but won’t say how much stronger. Right now his party’s target is barely half of what is needed, so the exact number really matters,” said Rev Merrifield.
The Coalition has a target of cutting emissions by 26 to 28% by 2030 while Labor’s target is 43%. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said that the world needs to cut emissions by roughly 50% by that date.
“We would really like Fiona Phillips to push for a stronger target too. However, it is the policy of the current government that is truly heaven and earth away from what is needed. We’re simply asking Mr Constance to have the courage to say what level of improvement is actually needed,” said Rev Chapman.
The call for halving emissions by 2030 echoes the statement at Easter by senior Christian leaders that called for the same thing. Signatories included Archbishops, heads of Churches, Bishops and Deans.
The group held a public forum at Kiama Uniting Church on Saturday night at which Mr Constance was asked to support the target of halving emissions by 2030. The group also met with Fiona Phillips privately to ask for the same thing and she undertook to pass that message on to party leadership. The faith group met with Andrew Constance privately this morning but were unable to obtain a commitment to a specific target.
"We are deeply concerned to make sure that the climate crisis is something that is above politics and that all parties are very serious about. Right now we have the problem that one of the major parties is not taking climate change seriously, so we need to be honest about that. And its local candidate has ruled out saying how much he’d like his party to improve by. Since they are such a long, long way from where they need to be, this isn’t a small thing. It’s absolutely crucial. This is actually just a matter of loving one's neighbour and caring for God's creation,” said Rev Chapman.
Ten churches around the electorate are demanding stronger climate action by 2030 with banners over their churches
“This is a physical demonstration of the strength of feeling in the community and among everyday people of faith,” said Rev Watts.
“People know that if we don’t want to see the fires and the floods happen more and more often, we need to act decisively this decade and to be clear about just what level of action is actually needed. This is just a matter of the kind of compassion that all religious traditions teach.”
Above in no particular order:
St Peter and Paul Church, Kiama
St. Mary Star of the Sea Church, Gerringong
Kiama Baptist Church
Berry Uniting Church
Kiama Jamberoo Uniting Church
St John's Anglican Church, Moruya
Moruya Uniting Church
Bay and Basin Uniting Church
Batemans Bay Uniting Church