Fossil fuels feel the heat

Rev Meredith Williams from the Uniting Church speaks during yesterday’s multi-faith service in Sydney.

The Uniting Church was represented at a multi-faith prayer service in Sydney yesterday as part of a week of action protesting against fossil fuels.

The action has been initiated by the global Catholic Laudato Si’ Movement, and Australian people of faith and their organisations are being encouraged to consider divesting from fossil fuels as part of their broader responsibility to care for the earth.

Yesterday’s service was held at St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral in Parramatta and was organised by the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC).

Leaders from several faiths participated in the event, including Rev Meredith Williams from the Uniting Church, Bishop Vincent Long from the Catholic Church, Theravada Buddhist monk Ven Bhante Sujato, Ahmet Ozturk, Rev Dr Shenouda Mansour and Rabbi George Mordecai.

“The time has come for us to act decisively to reduce our carbon footprint, to invest in renewable energy, to divest from fossil fuels, to consume less and waste less,” Rev Long said.

Venerable Bhante Sujato said “escalating climate chaos unfolds before us every day, in every nation, in cold and heat, in flood and fire”.

“We fear for ourselves and for our children, yet sometimes we do not even know that our own money is funding the madness,” he said.

“The big banks and financial institutions are too often deeply dependent on fossil fuel investments, profiting while the world burns. Divesting from fossil fuels breaks this cycle. When consumers refuse to participate in destructive fossil fuel profiteering, it sends an unmistakable signal.”

ARRCC president Thea Ormerod said faith-based organisations continued to lead the fight against fossil fuels.

“It is not well known that the big banks and funds tend to invest heavily in coal, oil and gas mining and infrastructure, but certain banks, such as Bendigo Bank and Bank Australia, avoid this and instead engage in ‘positive impact investing’,” she said.

Faith-based organisations have been among the first to embrace fossil fuel divestment, both in Australia and globally.

Worldwide, of all organisations to have committed to divestment, those that are faith-based are the largest in number.

“Faith-based organisations come out of long-revered traditions of seeking to live more ethically,” Ms Ormerod said.

“Action to ensure that one’s money is used as a power for good and not for harm should, and often does, flow seamlessly from other religious values, such as responsibility to care for the earth, respect for life, compassion and justice.”

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