Local faith communities sound the alarm on climate

People from diverse local faith communities held a symbolic action today at Uniting Church in the City (UCIC), Wesley Perth where they rang bells to ‘sound the alarm’ for the climate.

The group rang bells at 11.00am on Thursday 11 March as part of a global multi-faith Day of Action in which over a hundred faith communities across Australia will call for more ambitious action on climate change. The lead local organisation is the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), part of GreenFaith International.

The Day of Action centres on a “Sacred People, Sacred Earth” Statement signed by prominent religious leaders such as the Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the senior Vatican spokesperson, Cardinal Turkson. Domestically, signatories include Bishop Philip Huggins, President of the National Council of Churches, as well as senior Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, Hindu and Muslim leaders.

Geoffrey Bice, President of ARRCC WA and Social Justice Consultant for the Uniting Church WA, said, “Western Australia needs to play its part in reducing emissions too. There have been some encouraging election commitments made by some parties, but it is a concern that there is minimal reference to emissions from the gas industry which is by far the biggest polluter.

“As people go to the polls on Saturday we encourage them, as we have our own members, to use their vote carefully and consider the needs of the most vulnerable and the climate.”

Ann Zubrick, Presiding Clerk of Quakers Australia, joined the Western Australian branch of ARRCC as they gathered outside UCIC Wesley in the Perth CBD. Ann Zubrick said, “In the terrible fires of the last two summers, we saw what happens when the science of climate change is not heeded.

“By contrast, we’ve seen during this pandemic that good outcomes are achieved when scientific advice is followed but, when governments do the wrong thing, it’s the poor who are hurt the most.

“Climate scientists are urging the strongest action possible to mitigate climate change, hence GreenFaith International’s call for wealthy countries to reduce their emissions to net zero by 2030. Governments like Australia’s need to wake up out of their complacency.”

ARRCC is calling for higher emissions reduction targets to be submitted under the Paris Accord. The organisation wants post-COVID recovery spending to be centred on low carbon jobs rather than fossil fuels such as gas, and for finance to be provided to the Green Climate Fund for developing countries.

Bishop Philip Huggins, President of the National Council of Churches in Australia said, “We all need to be imaginative and generous together now to prevent a worsening climate emergency. Our Federal Government has a crucial leadership role both in our nation and as good neighbours in the Asia-Pacific region.

“The transition to net-zero requires we make a bold Australian contribution to COP26, as is expected by the Paris Agreement. It means coordinating Regional Industry Plans so that workers in fossil fuel industries can transition to durable and clean energy employment,” he said.

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