Church declares ‘climate emergency’ and calls for ban on plastics

Provincial Synod has declared a “climate emergency” and called on parishes to recycle and to ban the use of plastic in their congregational activities, including items such as plastic straws, cutlery and water bottles as well as plastic and Styrofoam cups.

A resolution on the use of plastic was proposed by Ms Mandisa Gumada of the Diocese of Natal and Bishop Vicente Msosa of the Diocese of Niassa. It read:

PLASTIC

This Synod noting that:

1. The equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic enters our oceans every minute and by 2050 there will be more plastic by weight in the ocean than fish;

2. Plastic is killing marine animals and seabirds, destroying the marine environment as well as people’s livelihoods, infiltrating the human food chain and causing cancers and birth defects. Scientists have found plastic in tap water and even in salt. Microplastic enters our lungs;

3. South Africans use 8 billion plastic shopping bags per year;

4. By contrast 28 African countries, such as Kenya, Rwanda, Morocco and Cameroon, have banned the use, manufacture, importation and distribution of disposable plastic bags.

Acknowledging that:

Plastic debris not only results in high cleaning-up costs but also brings huge losses for the tourism, fisheries and shipping industries. It threatens our health, constitutional rights, water resources and climate.

Resolves to:

Call on ACSA to become a #zerowaste Church and call on Parishes and Dioceses to commit to becoming Zero waste by;

1. Not using plastic bottled water;

2. Not using Styrofoam;

3. Reducing paper as much as possible;

4. Setting up compost heaps and food gardens where possible;

5. Installing recycling bins for church and, if possible, for community;

6. Not using plastic cutlery, cups, water bottles and straws;

7. Displaying a #zerowaste signs at the church

8. “To rethink our consumption practices”.

9. Calls on the governments of South Africa, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique and St Helena to ban single use plastic as a matter of urgency.

The resolution declaring a climate change emergency was proposed by Bishop Msosa, seconded by Bishop Ellinah Wamukoya of Swaziland, and motivated by Canon Rachel Mash, the Province’s Environmental Coordinator.

CLIMATE CHANGE EMERGENCY

This Synod noting that:

We face a triple emergency of climate change, biodiversity loss, poverty and inequality with reference to:

1. The latest Climate Change Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicates that we have less than twelve years to make a rapid transition away from fossil fuels to renewables or will face out of control climate change;

2. This is a Kairos moment;

3. Rapid climate change, with its increasingly severe weather patterns is having devastating effects on humanity, with its detrimental effects on agriculture, the increase in diseases and various negative impacts on human health;

4. One million out of the 5 million species on this planet face extinction due to human activity;

5 Our economic system is making the rich richer and the poor poorer. In 2018, 26 people owned the same amount of wealth as the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity;

6. South Africa is the most unequal country in the world;

7 We cannot eradicate poverty unless we tackle climate change.

Further noting:

1. Mozambique has suffered devastating environmental damage and loss of life from Cyclones Idai and Kenneth. “Beira will go down in history as the first city to be completely devastated by Climate Change” said Graca Machel;

2. Parts of KwaZulu-Natal also suffered devastating floods with loss of life;

3. Namibia is suffering from massive drought;

4. Water crises are being experienced in the Eastern, Northern and Western Cape.

Acknowledging:

1. The Anglican Consultative Council (ACC 17) meeting this year, passed three significant resolutions, which pertain to ACSA, calling for Provincial Action on Climate Change, (A17:05), Climate Resilience (A17: 06) and the Sustainable Development Goals (A17:11) and encouraging Provinces to:

1.1 Declare a Climate Emergency;

1.2 Identify Environmental related threats;

1.3 Hold Strategic planning Conferences on the SDGs and Climate Change.

Resolves to:

1. Appeal for ACSA to declare a Climate Emergency for our Province.

2. Respectfully requests the Metropolitan to cause a Provincial Consultation to be convened on Climate Change In collaboration and at the cost of the ACSA Environmental Network and Hope Africa and to encourage as much as is possible the participation of the Bishops of the Province, Diocesan Social Development Representatives, Environmental Representatives, and Gender Representatives.

3. Ensure the participation of young people and women’s voices.

4. This consultation should strive to achieve the following objectives:

a. Identify climate related threats;

b. Develop an action plan for individuals at Parish, Diocesan and Provincial levels on the Environment and Social Development, to include the following inter alia:

b.1 gender and other social considerations;

b.2 policies and procedures to increase the use of renewable energies and incorporate creation care into all aspects of church life, including into liturgical practice;

b.3 mainstreaming eco-theological reflection across all levels of theological education.

c. Report on the implementation of this resolution at the next Provincial Standing Committee and Provincial Synod.

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