Meeting participants join with community workers who operate a small textile factory funding by a mining company. Photo: Ken Gray
The Anglican Communion Environment Network (ACEN) has developed an action plan that sets out concrete steps to address climate change and “human-induced environmental degradation.”
The plan, to be unveiled at an undisclosed date in late September, includes everything from how an individual can simplify his or her lifestyle to lobbying the United Nations and addressing the plight of environmental refugees.
ACEN representatives, who met August 4 to 10 in Lima, Peru, heard stories of “widespread exploitation of resources,” according to a statement from Network convener Bishop George Browning, of the Anglican Church of Australia.
“A lack of awareness and in many cases, unwillingness among corporations, governments and consumers to take action were also evident,” he said in the statement. Anglicans must challenge governments and corporations that do harm to the environment, but they also need to “scrutinize and transform (their) own relationship with God’s creation,” said Bishop Browning.
The ACEN met with local Peruvian residents and workers who talked about how decades of mining and smelting have polluted air, land and water with severe health consequences. Blood levels of lead in children, for instance, “far exceed acceptable levels set by the World Health Organization,” said Bishop Browning.
In an interview with the Journal, the Rev. Ken Gray, ACEN secretary and priest in the Anglican Church of Canada, said the Peruvian people also expressed concern about the decline in potable drinking water. “There was real concern from the taxi driver to the theologian,” he said.
Representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Madagascar and Peru discussed how deforestation continues “at a frightening and devastating rate,” and how they are severely affecting indigenous communities who continue to rely on subsistence farming, said Bishop Browning.
Satellite images and maps of forest areas in the Gran Chaco region of northern Argentina have revealed vast land areas that have been bulldozed to make way for grazing beef cattle and planting soya beans, only to be abandoned later, he added.
Anglicans from Bangladesh and Polynesia discussed the danger of rising sea levels. “Will the countries who are neglecting to take critical action in preventing climate change be willing to give sanctuary to the millions who will become its refugees?” asked Bishop Browning.
As for Canada’s environment, Gray expressed concern about the country’s commitment to the expansion of the fossil fuel industry, especially in the Alberta tar sands. He also spoke about how dioceses in the Canadian Church-Huron, Ottawa and New Westminster, in particular-have maintained good environmental sustainability programs.