By Thea Ormerod (Chair ARRCC) and Sangita Bhatia.
According to an article in The Guardian, climate change is the most divisive and toxic issue in Australian politics and is one filled with uncertainty.
The anti-carbon tax rallies which ran before the carbon price was voted through were bitter, abusive and scientifically illiterate. However prominent religious leaders recently took a positive stand on the issue.
The leaders have signed an open letter organised by the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, and came together for an official launch in Sydney on 4 July. They are calling upon Australia to be a part of the global solution to climate change, in order to avert a dangerous potential 4° C rise in global temperatures.
Rev Dr Brian Brown, moderator of the Uniting Church Synod NSW/ACT, spoke at the launch of our stewardship of the earth’s resources.
“The gifts of Creation given to us are meant to be used wisely, and in a way which leaves a world which continues to provide for the needs of future generations,” Dr Brown said.
At the launch the various signatories and their spokespersons affirmed our human interconnectedness with the natural world, and our responsibility to take care of it.
They share concern for social justice for those who are suffering the effects of climate change in the Pacific and elsewhere, as well as for those whose jobs will be displaced when society moves away from coal mining.
Ms Jacqui Remond, director of Catholic Earthcare and spokesperson for Archbishop Philip Wilson, very eloquently responded to the question on coal mining.
“As living creatures we must take responsibility for the spheres that we are a part of, the biosphere, the atmosphere, the lithosphere and the hydrosphere,” she said.
“What we understand from science is that we are causing crises within each of these spheres primarily due to release of fossil fuel in the atmosphere. It’s quite clear we have to reduce our mining of coal.”
Ms Remond went on to speak about the Clean Energy Future legislation which includes a price on carbon. “The results show that in the first six months of its operation, 4300 megawatts of power has been saved. We need to celebrate this achievement as this is an equivalent of three power plants being closed.”
Keysar Trad, spokesperson for the Grand Mufti of Australia, said, “We are spiritual people but our spirituality is meant to change the way we live, how we respond to the social issues society is grappling with.”
The leaders also invited all people of faith to participate in a transition to a more just and sustainable way of life. In Ms Remond’s words, “Everyone can take part in lifestyle changes such as reducing their consumption, switching to GreenPower and installing solar hot water. We can also let our political leaders know about the change we want to see.”
For the full text of the open letter and signatories go to: http://www.arrcc.org.au/leaders-open-letter