Faith communities across Australia held vigils yesterday outside the offices of Members of Parliament, including that of the Prime Minister.
Their unified call was for Australia to take stronger climate policies to the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow later this month, especially for a stronger 2030 target.
A group of 50 people, including a dozen clergy of various faiths and Catholic sisters, rang bells and held a liturgy outside the office of Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Groups from various faiths also held vigils outside the offices of other MPs, some Coalition and some Labor. They included Nationals Leader Barnaby Joyce, Trevor Evans in the seat of Brisbane and Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, Warren Entsch.
The Very Rev’d Dr Peter Catt, Cathedral Dean of Brisbane, was among those who kept vigil outside Trevor Evans’ Albion electoral office.
Dr Catt said that he encourages all people of faith to do what they can to reverse damage to the climate.
“Firstly, given that it is a systemic problem, lobby your MP so that we get the policy settings correct; secondly, look at your own lifestyle and live the change; thirdly, share your concern with family and friends,
“People of faith understand that the planet is a gift and so to be cared for.
“They also seek to advocate for people who are poor and vulnerable, the people who will pay the heaviest price for inaction.
“Solidarity builds hope.”
Part of a global multi-faith “day of action”, over 440 multi-faith events were held in 43 countries. With a unified message about protecting the earth, they were held in places as different from each other as New York and Nairobi, Lilongwe in Malawi and London.
Over 120 diverse faith communities across Australia were involved, hanging banners on their places of worship or holding special events, calling on Scott Morrison to set much bolder climate targets for 2030. As the Government considers a target of net zero emissions by 2050, faith communities say that only an ambitious near-term goal would make that goal meaningful
Venerable Bhante Sujato, Buddhist monk of Sutta Central, who attended the vigil outside Scott Morrison’s office, said, “We are distressed that the Coalition’s internal debate is about a 2050 target when the main game is slashing pollution this decade. We need targets closer to those of our partners the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union. Indeed, the world needs reductions now.”
In Melbourne, Pentecostal Pastor Rob Buckingham of Bayside Church, said, “Our prayers are for the Morrison Government, that they will take the bold action needed to protect the integrity of God’s creation.”
In Perth, people from across the religious spectrum held a vigil outside the office of outgoing MP, Steve Irons.
Ann Zubrick, Presiding Clerk of Quakers Australia, said, “Mr Irons is in the same prayer group as the Prime Minister. We are asking him to let Mr Morrison know that we’re all praying that fossil fuels are not simply replaced by fossil fuels.
“…we need public investment in large-scale renewable energy, which would create more jobs and be better for our farmers, water security, our health and the climate.”
In Cairns a ceremony was held at the local Anglican church, attended by Buddhists, Quakers, Christians and people from other local groups. They then crossed the road to the office of Warren Entsch, who has been an outspoken critic of National Party colleagues over their opposition to setting an emissions target.
Spokesperson for the Anglican Diocese of North Queensland, Father Neil Forgie, said, “We support Mr Entsch in his calls for stronger climate action, but we want to encourage him to speak up even more strongly. He must tell the Prime Minister that the time for half-measures is over – we must drastically reduce emissions this decade.”
In Australia, actions were organised under the auspices of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), a founding partner of GreenFaith International.Jump to next article