RenewWA: standing with the Pacific

For Fijian Methodist minister Rev James Bhagwan, climate change is not a theoretical concept. For many people in the Pacific, the impacts of rising sea levels and severe tropical cyclones are an all too real experience of a changing climate.

James, the Methodist Church in Fiji’s secretary for Communication and Overseas Mission, is a keen advocate for strong action on climate change, having seen its direct impacts in his community.

“Our small nation, Fiji, was the first to ratify the Paris Agreement and almost immediately, as if to underline the importance of the convention on climate change, we were faced with Severe Tropical Cyclone (STC) Winston, a category 5 cyclone and the most powerful in the southern hemisphere — a symbol of the earth’s groaning and crying to the rising temperatures and sea levels,” he said.

“Before STC Winston and since we continue to suffer from other extreme weather patterns – droughts and floods – as a result of climate change.

“Around 45 villages are earmarked to relocate in the next five to ten years, as a result of climate change.”

Rev Steve Francis, moderator of the Uniting Church WA, is eager to see the church in Australia become part of the solution to climate change.

“We must hear the voice of our Pacific sisters and brothers and do as much as we can to address the drivers of climate change both in our church and in our society,” he said.

Steve said it was a highlight to recently view the new large scale photovoltaic array on the roof of the Uniting Church in the City’s office tower.

“To have the largest solar panel array in the Perth CBD on a Uniting Church building is a fantastic development. We must continue to find ways to speed up the transition to renewable energy across the entire energy system and it is great to see the Uniting Church modelling that transition.”

Steve is also pleased to see the Uniting Church’s involvement in the development and promotion of the RenewWA initiative. The Social Justice Commission have been closely involved in the development of the RenewWA’s climate consensus statement which calls on the State Government to adopt Renewable Energy Targets and develop a holistic plan to transition Western Australia to renewable energy.

“If we are to take seriously our responsibility to address climate change, the entire Western Australian energy system must urgently make the shift to utilise the abundant renewable energy available to us in WA. The modelling we have seen from Sustainable Energy Now shows that it is eminently possible to shift the South West energy grid to 100% renewable energy by 2030,” Steve said.

If you would like to write to your candidates to support a call for renewable energy in WA please add your details here: http://renewwa.good.do/renewwa/renewwa/

Geoff Bice

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Photos: Alastair Leith

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