Faith communities worldwide sound the alarm on climate
Over one hundred local faith communities across Australia from diverse traditions will hold events today as part of a major global multi faith Day of Action to ‘sound the alarm’ for the climate. Across 40 countries, religious organisations representing 100 million members are holding actions to ‘sound the alarm’ at the yawning gap between what is required to limit global temperature rise and actual commitments by governments and financial institutions.
Churches will ring their Bells, Rabbis will sound the shofar, Imams will call the Azan and some groups will hold silent Vigils to draw attention to a series of calls on Prime Minister Scott Morrison for climate justice. The actions will be across every state and territory.
There will also be multi-faith Vigils outside the offices of the Prime Minister, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, Warren Entsch.
The Day of Action is in support of a “Sacred People, Sacred Earth” Statement signed by very prominent religious leaders including the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the Vatican Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Turkson.
There are also high-profile Australian signatories including Bishop Philip Huggins, President of the National Council of Churches, and Bishop Vincent Long of the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta. The Statement has been signed by over 200 faith leaders and thousands of people from a very wide range of faiths.
The signatories seek net zero emissions for wealthy countries by 2030, a leap ahead of net zero by 2050. The Statement also calls for economic recovery money to be spent on renewables rather than fossil fuels, and that governments “must not perpetuate an outdated economic system that relies on fossil fuels and the destruction of the very forests, waters, oceans and soils that make life possible.”
Australian signatories are calling on Scott Morrison’s Government to submit higher emissions reduction targets that are in line with a net zero target by 2030 this year in the lead-up to the crucial COP26 negotiations in Glasgow. Instead of a “gas-led recovery”, they want post-COVID recovery spending to be on low carbon jobs, and for finance to be provided to the UN Green Climate Fund for developing countries.
In Australia, the lead organisation is the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), which is part of GreenFaith International.
Bishop Philip Huggins said, “We all need to be imaginative and generous together now to prevent a worsening climate emergency. Our Federal Government has a crucial leadership role both in our nation and as good neighbours in the Asia-Pacific region.
“The transition to net-zero requires we make a bold Australian contribution to COP26, as is expected by the Paris Agreement. It means coordinating Regional Industry Plans so that workers in fossil fuel industries can transition to durable and clean energy employment.
“We have the innovative expertise to ensure our economy flourishes and our climate is safe for this and future generations.
“We now just need the quality of coherent national leadership that, as with the pandemic, builds trust and takes initiatives to prevent more suffering,” urged Bishop Huggins.
Ann Zubrick, Presiding Clerk of Quakers Australia, said “One clear lesson from this pandemic is that things we considered impossible can, with thoughtful planning, suddenly become possible. It’s also shown that amazing things can happen when the science is heeded and the welfare of all is taken into account. However, when governments act too slowly or without regard for our common good, the poor are hurt the most.
“In the terrible fires of the last two summers, we’ve seen what happens when the science of climate change is denied and its growing effects not heeded.”
“Climate scientists are urging the most ambitious emissions reductions possible, hence our suggested target for wealthy countries of net zero by 2030. This won’t happen while governments like that of Scott Morrison remain complacent.”
Bhante Sujato, a monk in the Theravada tradition, said “Buddhism teaches compassion for all living beings not just those we think might vote for us in marginal electorates. Australia is the largest exporter of coal and gas. Compassion means basic empathy for our neighbours in the Pacific who are seeing their homes swamped by the sea – and for our own farmers battling droughts. It means caring enough about the billions of animals killed in last summer’s fires to actually act. It means doing everything we can to stop the Great Barrier Reef from dying.”