Faith communities in Australia call for climate action
By Lisa Zengarini
As COP-26 approaches, faith communities in Australia are urging the Australian government to take swift and effective action against climate change to protect Creation. Australia is a large producer of coal and gas and its climate policies and emissions reductions are ranked among the worst in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
On October 17 and 18 the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), a multi-faith organisation committed in promoting climate justice, organized two days of action calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to act urgently to combat global warming. Mr. Morrison drew strong criticism when he indicated in September that he might not attend COP-26. After weeks of initial hesitation, a few days ago he announced that he will take part in the Climate Conference taking place in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12.
The “Faiths 4 Climate Justice” events
On Sunday, faith communities across the country were invited to sound the climate alarm either by ringing bells, singing, praying, meditating, calling the Azan (the call to prayer in the Islamic tradition), playing the Jewish shofar, or celebrating other religious rituals. The following day participants in the “Faiths 4 Climate Justice” events showed up outside federal MP’s offices to make their voices heard by Australian political leaders. ARRCC also sent a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling to present a strong climate policy platform to the UN Climate Summit.
The urgent need for action against climate change
More than 110 faith communities across Australia, including Christians, Muslims and Jews, took part in the initiative. Among them, many Catholics. Father Robert Riedling, dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Parramatta, explained to Australian Bishops’ Cathnews that while much is being done about net-zero emissions by 2050, organisers are calling for targets by 2030: “The Catholic Church has an evolved tradition of social justice”, father Riedling said. “We know that those most affected by climate change tend to be the marginalised and disenfranchised, so we as a Church, along with other churches and other faith traditions, are hoping that we can highlight what needs to be done and demand that the Government takes action on this issue.”
Preserving the gift of creation
The Sisters of St Joseph also called for Australia to make a commitment to “put the protection of the planet at the forefront ”. “How can we not take action?“ asked congregational leader Sister Monica Cavanagh in a statement. “The IPCC findings warn of a catastrophic future if we don’t act. Our Pacific neighbours watch as their lands are disappearing. We know that it is those who are most defenseless who are most immediately affected by the devastation we are causing. Both our religious faith and the call to us as humans, propel us to do all we can to preserve the gift of creation”, Sister Monica said.