Pacific Church Leaders Speak out on Climate Change as their Homes Flood
As part of an exciting new partnership with Tearfund NZ, A Rocha joined with Tearfund, Oxfam, 350 Aotearoa and the Auckland Diocesan Climate Change Action Group to bring two Pacific Island church leaders to speak directly to New Zealand church leaders.
Hundreds of people listened as Rev. Tafue Lusama told harrowing stories of how cyclones, sea levels, and changes to crops and fisheries are already impacting his nation of Tuvalu and other low-lying nations across the Pacific. “Our elders can no longer predict weather patterns and salt water not only encroaches on land but rises directly out of it, destroying our crop lands. Cyclone Pam in March was also unprecedented.” Dr Murray Sheard, Chair of A Rocha and Tearfund Education and Advocacy Manager, says climate change is now undermining development gains. “Since 1990, people have lifted themselves out of poverty faster than ever before. But the more we succeed on development, the more we fail on sustainability. That’s a recipe for disaster, and Pacific peoples are the canary in the coal mine.“
Three main follow-up actions have sprung from the tour.
- In breakfast briefings, the Pacific leaders spoke church leader to church leader, asking them to stand in solidarity. In each city, a steering group is forming to take action together.
- In evening public lectures, participants signed postcards to their bank asking for divestment from loans to fossil-fuel companies.
- As part of a new A Rocha/Tear Fund initiative participants will be invited to participate in the ‘Rich Living’ project – due to be launched in 2016. This project helps individuals, households and churches audit and decrease their emissions and in doing so, learn about how sustainable living will have a positive impact on their Pacific brothers and sisters and all of creation.