150 religious leaders urge PM to show moral courage

PADDINGTON: On Tuesday June 25 over 150 religious leaders from across Australia issued an open letter calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to recognise Australia’s moral responsibility to avoid climate catastrophe. The letter calls for a halt to all new coal and gas mining, including Adani’s Carmichael mine and rail project. The letter is timely in view of the prime minister’s decision to ease the approval process for new mines.

Thea Ormerod, Sr Libby Rogerson and Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black at Paddington Uniting Church. Photo: Andrew Collis

The religious leaders, representing Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), span the spectrum of faiths and include the heads of the National Council of Churches, Muslims Australia, the Uniting Church in Australia and the Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils, as well as the Grand Mufti of Australia, Bishops, senior Rabbis and leading theologians.

Addressing the media at Paddington Uniting Church, ARRCC President Thea Ormerod said: “We need a response that matches the scale and urgency of the crisis. At present, government policy is going in the wrong direction. Australia’s emissions have gone up for the entirety of the federal government’s tenure. The government’s failure to deliver a credible climate policy is hurting Australians and people around the world.”

Imam Ahmed Abdo, Secretary, Council of Imams NSW, said: “The time has come for people of all faiths to stand up for our common home, the Earth – the precious gift of Creation.”

Loreto Sister Libby Rogerson called on the prime minister to protect the poor and vulnerable. “The sea levels are rising, affecting the Torres Strait right now … When children are protesting in the street, we owe it to them to protect them,” she said.

Dr Gawaine Powell Davies, President of the Buddhist Council of NSW, stressed compassion for all living beings as a central tenet of his faith.

Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black, Environmental Advisor, Council of Progressive Rabbis, addressed the need for a jobs plan based on renewable energy, as well as questions on religious responsibility and freedom.

“The climate situation is much more than a political or even a scientific issue,” the open letter reads. “It is a profoundly moral one.

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns us that nothing short of strong and immediate action on all fronts will avert massive threats to the climate system on which life on Earth depends.

“The IPCC has now told the world that global thermal coal use must drop by at least 59 per cent in the next 11 years if we are to avoid 1.5 degree C warming. Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter, so we clearly have a particular moral responsibility to stop developing polluting coal mines.

“As you know, thousands of school students have been protesting in our streets about this emergency. They have three demands. We are writing to urge you to agree to them:

1. Stopping the proposed Adani coal mine
2. Committing to no new coal or gas projects in Australia
3. Moving to 100 per cent renewable energy by the year 2030.

“We understand this will be challenging. To start with, the people who live in those communities where employment would be affected clearly need good reliable jobs. Yet a courageous leader would come up with a jobs plan based on renewable energy instead of coal, an industry with an uncertain future which is now threatening our very survival.”

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