The Bishop of Salisbury, the Right Rev Nicholas Holtam, has signed a global petition demanding that climate change be an urgent item of business at the upcoming G20 Summit in Brisbane.
Bishop Nicholas, who is the Church of England’s lead bishop on environmental issues, said: “The Australian government, which as host has the power to set the agenda at the gathering of the world’s biggest economies, has so far refused to make climate change a topic for discussion.
"That’s why I’ve signed this petition, organised by the Anglican Communion’s development network, the Anglican Alliance.
“For Christians, the Earth is God’s creation and we are charged with caring for it as good stewards. Our failure to take care with our carbon emissions leave the world’s poorest as the most vulnerable.
"Rich countries contribute disproportionately to the problem – the UK has 0.9 per cent of the world population but contributes 1.5 per cent of world CO2 emissions, which means our ratio of emissions to people is greater than China’s.
"We need to see Britain and other rich countries taking leadership and showing responsibility.
“Rising oceans are already poisoning agricultural land and washing away homes in the region.
"Continued sea level rise could see countries like Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands wiped off the map entirely.
“Australia’s neighbouring nations, the Pacific Islands, include most of those set to be hit hardest by climate change, as well as being among the poorest and least politically powerful. Pacific Islanders are already doing what they can to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.
"They are saying, ‘We are not drowning—we are fighting’. It is not good enough for the world’s most powerful and polluting nations to stand idly by in that fight.
“I call on the Australian government to live up to their nation’s reputation as one that cherishes both a clean environment and fairness for the ordinary bloke. Please give climate change the place it deserves on the agenda of the world’s most powerful nations.”
The Anglican Alliance’s Co-Director, the Rev Andy Bowerman backed the Bishop.
Mr Bowerman, who lives in Dorset, said: “It is a glaring omission that the Australian government is silencing the global debate on climate change while hosting the G20.
“The people of Dorset are very aware of climate change, having seen significant changes on our own fragile coast over the past decade. We’re delighted the Bishop of Salisbury, as the Church of England's national spokesperson on the environment, has chosen to sign up for Oceans of Justice. I encourage others to do the same.”