Fifty-one clergy send letter to premier and ministers about climate change

Moving Beyond Coal
An open letter from leaders of Faith-based groups in British Columbia
The Honorable Christy Clark, Premier of British Columbia
The Honorable Mary Polak, Minister of the Environment,
The Honorable Todd Stone, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure
The Honorable Terry Lake, Minister of Health

Premier and Honorable Ministers,
We write as leaders of Christian, Jewish, Unitarian, Quaker, and Sikh traditions in British Columbia. We are concerned about the moral and environmental issues regarding the proposal to build a new coal transfer facility at Fraser Surrey Docks (FSD) that would expedite the shipment of up to 8 million tons of U.S. thermal coal through Surrey, the Fraser River, and Salish Sea to Texada Island. We are asking you to reconsider the recently approved permit for the augmentation of the Texada Island port facility that would enable the increased coal export, and to phase out all U.S. thermal coal exports from BC ports.
The end use of this coal is for electric power generation, primarily in China. The practice of burning coal is the source of most of the horrific air pollution problems in that country. Contributing to the increase in coal-related disability among the Chinese weighs heavily on our conscience. Coal is also the fossil fuel most directly linked to the rising CO2 emissions in China of the last 20 years.1 Our province has shown strong leadership in the past on commitments to reduce GHG emissions2 and our municipalities have robust plans to reduce carbon output. The traffic in coal is not compatible with those plans.
In our weekly sermons we encourage our congregations to adopt a sustainable lifestyle. Many of them are walking the talk, reducing their carbon footprint in their daily choices of what they buy and how they travel. Now our congregations are asking us to act as emissaries of their message to you, to embrace a shift in the way to do business. Therefore we will not stand idly by when we see local actions that will contribute to climate destabilization. We state emphatically that making money at the expense of the health and prosperity of the planet is wrong.
Our traditions teach us that human and non-human life is sacred and inter-connected. Our compassion compels us to act to prevent the suffering of human and non-human life on this miraculous planet. Although the amount of coal proposed for traffic through the FSD is a small fraction of the global coal use, this is the coal that you, the representatives of the BC electorate, can control. Approval of these permits means that you are complicit with a continued dependence on a dangerous fuel that is a relic of a time that is no more. Denying the permits would send a powerful message that BC is committed to being part of the solution to the climate crisis.
We ask you to consider both current and future generations of life on this planet as you make these decisions.
1CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion – Highlights 2013, International Energy Agency
2 Province of British Columbia, Climate Action Plan, 2008
The Reverend Beth Hayward, Senior Minister, Canadian Memorial United Church, Vancouver
Rabbi David Mivasair, Rabbi Emeritus, Ahavat Olam Synagogue, Vancouver
The Reverend Dr. Dorothy Jeffery, Minister, St. Stephen’s United Church, East Delta
The Reverend Bruce Sanguin, Minister in the United Church of Canada, Vancouver, founder of Home
for Evolving Mystics
The Reverend Debra Thorne, Minister, Beacon Unitarian Church, New Westminister
The Reverend Phillip Hewett, Minister Emeritus, Unitarian Church of Vancouver
The Reverend Dr. Daniel Bogert-O’Brien, Minister, Colebrook United Church, Surrey
The Reverend Scott Swanson, Interim Minister, Crescent United Church, Surrey
The Reverend Dr. Stephen Atkinson, Minister, North Shore Unitarian Church, West Vancouver
The Reverend Samaya Oakley, Developmental Minister, First Unitarian Fellowship of Nanaimo,
Nanaimo, BC
The Reverend Karen E. May, Minister, Texada Island United Church, Van Anda, BC
Christopher F. Bernard, MDiv., Pastoral Care Chaplain/Spiritual Health Leader, Roman Catholic
Health Care, Vancouver
The Reverend Maxine Pirie, Order of Ministry, Powell River United Church, Powell River
The Reverend Peggy Jensen, Minister, St. George’s United Church, Courtenay
The Reverend Dr. Gary A. Gaudin, Minister, South Arm United Church, Richmond
The Reverend Janice Young, Minister, St. John’s United Church, Sechelt
The Reverend Bethan Theunissen, Minister, Trinity United Church and Heartwood Community Café,
Janette McIntosh, Organizer, Metro Vancouver KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice
Initiatives, Vancouver
Janet Gray, BC-Yukon KAIROS organization, Victoria
The Reverend Dr. Adela D. Torchia, Rector, Anglican Parish of St. David and St. Paul, Powell River
Henri Lock, United Chaplain, University of Victoria
The Reverend Dr. Allan Saunders, Minister, First Metropolitan United Church, Victoria
The Reverend Mark Green, Lead Minister, Cadboro Bay United Church, Victoria
The Reverend Julianne Kasmer, Chaplain, Our Place Society, Victoria
Ellen Pye, Clerk of Vancouver Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quaker), Vancouver
The Reverend Emilie Teresa Smith, Parish Priest, St. Barnabas Anglican Church, New Westminster
The Reverend Dr. Margaret Cornish, Rector, St. Alban Anglican Church, Richmond
Sister Cecilia Hudec, Sisters of Charity, Richmond
Sister Gertrude A. Jocksch, Sisters of Charity and Programs in Earth Literacies, Richmond
The Reverend Dr. Victoria Marie, Pastor, Our Lady of Guadalupe Tonantzin Community Society, Vancouver
The Reverend Fr. John Tritschler, Holy Rosary Cathedral, Vancouver
The Reverend Patricia Dutcher-Walls, Vancouver School of Theology
The Reverend Rebecca Simpson, Minister, St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, Mission
Mrs. Janet Eastwood, Leader of Children, Youth and Family Ministries, Haney Presbyterian Church, Maple Ridge
The Reverend Geof Jay, Moderator for the Presbytery of Westminster and Minister, St. Andrew’s- Newton Presbyterian Church, Surrey
The Reverend Laurie Deacon, Minister, St. Aidan’s Presbyterian Church, New Westminster
The Reverend Dr. Brian Fraser, Minister, Brentwood Presbyterian Church, Burnaby
The Reverend Dr. Glen Davis, Faculty member, Vancouver School of Theology, Vancouver
The Reverend Joyce Davis, President, Westminster Presbyterial
The Reverend Mary Fontaine, Executive Director, Hummingbird Ministries of the Presbytery of Westminster
The Reverend Dennis Howard, Minister, Langley Presbyterian Church, Langley
Dr. Sallie McFague, Distinguished Theologian in Residence, Vancouver School of Theology, Vancouver
The Reverend Brenda Nestegaard Paul, Pastor, Faith Lutheran Church, Powell River
The Reverend Ian Nestegaard-Paul, Priest, Anglican Parish of St. Bartholomew’s, Gibsons
Gian Singh, President of Gurdwara Dasmesh Darbar , Surrey
Giani Narinder Singh, Head Priest, Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran, Surrey
The Reverend Tim Dutcher-Walls, Chaplain, New Vista Society, Burnaby, and Faith & Society Committee, BC Synod (Lutheran)
The Reverend Dr. Gregory Mohr, Bishop, BC Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church, New Westminster
The Reverend H. Paul Schmidt, Pastor, Retired. Evangelical Lutheran Church, Delta
The Reverend Tim Le Drew, Our Saviour Lutheran Church, Richmond
The Reverend Lori-Anne Boutin-Crawford, First Lutheran Church, Vancouver