PM Under Pressure from Religious Leaders on Climate Change

Over 60 religious leaders nad prominent religious individuals have written to the Prime Minister, ahead of the release of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme exposure draft legislation, to express their deep concerns with the Government’s inadequate response to climate change.The letter urges the Government to address its weak greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, and to help shape a strong international agreement on climate change at Copenhagen. The 5-15% emission reduction target range by the year 2020 represents a failure to protect lives and livelihoods, and emissions must fall by at least 25% in industrialised countries if the world is to have a chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change.

It is not only ‘environmental’ groups who are concerned about the Government’s inadequate response”, said Dr Miriam Pepper, Secretary of multi-faith network the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), which facilitated the letter. “Australia’s religious groups are educating our communities about climate change and are taking actions to reduce our own carbon footprints, and we call for stronger action from the Government.”

The signatories to the letter are from a wide range of Christian denominations, and from Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu traditions. They include national and regional leaders of churches and religious associations, such as Archbishop Phillip Aspinall, Primate of the Anglican Church, Craig Brown, Federal Coordinator of the Churches of Christ in Australia, and Ikebal Patel, President of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils. Also among the signatories are representatives from ecumenical and interfaith bodies and faith-based aid and development organisations, such as the Rev. Tim Costello, CEO of World Vision. Prominent religious individuals from universities are also included.

Australians are already being affected by climate change, as are people all across the world, exspecially in the Pacific, South East Asia and Africa. For example, Bishop Peter Ingham, President of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania, and a signatory oto the letter, drew attention to the “low-lying atolls in the Pacific, which are already affected by rising seas, and whose people could be ‘climate refugees'”. The letter states that communities in places such as these are disproportionately impacted by climate change, yet bear little responsibility for its causes.

“Australia’s per capita greenhouse gas emissions are among the highest in the world. A 25% reduction in our emissions by 2020 is the minimum that the Government should commit to, for all our sakes, and especially for the sakes of the most vulnerable,” said the Ven. David Lungtok, Chair of the Australian Sangha Association, and another signatory to the letter. “In failing to make this commitment, the Government has also failed in its moral responsibility. We urge the Government to do better.”

Read the letter and signatories