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Dear Minister

As a practising …. I am very concerned at Australia’s policies going into the COP22 talks in Marrakech, Morocco. Our current policies lack the ambition and urgency needed to strive for a safe climate. 

All of us, all over the world, are already experiencing the early stages of climate change in one form or another. Experts are warning that these impacts of global warming are a near-term threat to life as we know it.  The impacts are increasingly exacerbating water shortages, conflict, food insecurity, species extinctions and forced dislocation of people from their land. The risk of these becoming unimaginably worse increases each year that governments settle for inadequate action.

Confronting this crisis is the great moral imperative of our time.  It requires urgent, transformative action if we are to slow (and hopefully reverse) the acceleration of global warming that is now underway.

According to Carbon Tracker, if most other countries followed Australia’s current position, global warming would exceed 3–4°C above pre-industrial levels and be catastrophic for life as we know it. Australia stands out as having the largest relative gap between current policy projections for 2030 and our target.

This is morally unacceptable. Australia weighs down the political will for action internationally, thus placing all of us at much higher risk, especially people who are most vulnerable to the impacts of global warming.

Leaders in my faith tradition accept the warnings of the scientific community and urge a rapid move away from the use of fossil fuels. We all share a common home, and this generation has the responsibility to minimise the damage being wrought to its systems that support life as we know it. Furthermore, as a nation which built its wealth on the export and use of fossil fuels, we have greater responsibilities towards vulnerable communities who are at the front lines of climate impacts.

Australia should therefore adopt the following policies:

  • Formally ratify the Paris Agreement
  • Set greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in line with the goal of urgently returning to a safe climate and certainly limiting warming to below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels; this would mean targets of achieving net zero emissions at emergency speed then drawing down greenhouse gases to a safe level
  • Allow no new coal, oil or gas mining developments or expansions of existing ones
  • Set a Renewable Energy Target of 100% to be reached at soon as possible
  • Withdraw subsidies and assistance (such as the diesel fuel rebate) to fossil fuel extractive industries
  • Increase our contribution to Climate Finance and provision for Loss and Damage, given that developing nations are unfairly carrying both the burden of development and the burden of an unstable climate. Given our economic capacity, the assistance should be in the order of billions of dollars annually, and additional to existing overseas aid.

These are not “unrealistic”. To fail to act commensurate with the threat we face is unrealistic. 

The warnings of scientists indicate clearly that a concerted effort must be made to rapidly minimise the huge risks currently posed by greenhouse gas pollution. With the structural decline in the coal industry, the unfolding threat to life as we know it, and strong community support for climate action, as shown in the Climate of the Nation 2016 report, it no longer makes economic, ethical or electoral sense to continue with previous policies. It is in everyone’s interests, including our own, that Australia takes her fair share of responsibility.

Please inform me of what you plan to do to change the Government’s policy settings so they more clearly align with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Yours sincerely