In 2008, the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) was established – the first national organisation focused on multi-faith environmental action. Each year, ARRCC continues to increase the scope of our work – in proud partnership with individuals and faith-based groups around Australia. We measure our success by the number of people of faith we can empower to help create a sustainable future.
Feedback from supporters
“I want to say how useful the information in the ARRCC e-newsletters is - great support to us all... Many thanks for your work, and for your efforts to keep morale up.”
“I was delighted to hear of your joint statement and have also been delighted to read Neil's article this morn in Eureka Street. Hugh Mackay in weekend Age said he hears little from the churches in public discourse. Your statement is urgently needed to be in the public domain.”
“I want to thank you for the stand you have made, as reported on the Religion and Ethics Report, ABC Radio National (7 Sept, 2013) ...I commend ARRCC, a body prepared to work across denominations to keep bringing this concern before our politicians, is truly heartening."
“Congratulations on the release on this statement from Australia's religious leaders on climate change and fossil fuel use. It's a powerful statement, and I really hope it gets the coverage it deserves... Thanks again for your work on such an important statement.”
“[I just found out] that ARRCC was behind the moving joint statement by Australian religious leaders released this week. Congratulations and well done pulling together such an impressive group of people with a strong statement -- it was just wonderful to see it come out.
“I am so grateful that ARRCC continues to witness and work for this vital issue - its numbers in disproportion to the crucial influence it exerts on behalf of so many of us in so many places (members of ARRCC or not) across the country.”
Achievements at a glance
Recognising the ethical motivation religion provides for environmental action, the Climate Institute provided the initial funding to establish an autonomous multi-faith climate network. In 2008, ARRCC was launched at a ceremony at al-Ghazzali Centre for Islamic Sciences and Human Development in Lakemba, Sydney.
While we now operate independently, we retain a strong relationship with the Climate Institute – one of our sponsors.
Support for our work continues to grow. ARRCC is proud of our network of supporters and over 140 formal members, including 35 faith-based organisations. Around 1,000 people have asked to receive our monthly e-newsletter.
As debate continues on the best way forward to curb climate change, ARRCC offers governments a faith-based perspective and speaks out for strong action.
Policy positions - ARRCC's policy positions were most recently updated in 2015, in consultation with members and stakeholders. On the whole, our positions have been more aligned with the requirements of climate science and social justice than those of some other environmental organisations, which have preferred to put forward recommendations which are more politically palatable.
Driving reform – ARRCC takes opportunities to contribute to government reforms that will contribute to a safer climate future. Examples include our submissions to
- the Henry Tax Review in 2009 calling for alternative tax arrangements to encourage commuters to cycle and use public transport
the Climate Change Authority’s Targets and Progress Review Draft Report
the community consultation regarding the Carbon Tax Repeal.
- the Warburton Review of the Renewable Energy Target
From time to time we publish open letters, signed by various leaders in faith communities. Some of these are quite prominent. The Grand Mufti, the Primate of the Anglican Church in Australia, the Presidents of faith-based peak bodies and other most respected faith leaders have joined their voices to our public calls for climate action.
We encourage our members to write letters and we have organized for religious leaders to visit Members of Parliament.
G20 Press Conference
We have received considerable media coverage at certain points in time, eg, in mid-2011 when our religious leaders publicly supported the Clean Energy Future legislation, and in November 2015, prior to the G20 Summit.
ARRCC stands in solidarity with our Aboriginal brothers and sisters in their struggle to have their cultural and land rights recognised by mainstream Australia. We particularly advocated for the rights of the Gomeroi Traditional Custodians at Maules Creek, whose rights continue to be trampled by Whitehaven Coal.
A box gum seedling is presented as a gift from ARRCC to Gomeroi Traditional Custodians of the Leard State Forest
ARRCC members and friends have participated in peaceful direct actions, ranging from prayer vigils to rallies to blockades. It's important that people of faith are visibly alongside other concerned citizens calling for action.
People's Climate March participants, Canberra, 2015
Participation in the fossil fuel divestment movement
The concept of moving investments out of coal, oil and gas extraction and infrastructure has captured the imagination of people of faith, both in Australia and internationally. With partner organisations 350.org and Catholic Earthcare, ARRCC has strongly encouraged individuals and faith-based organisations to move their money out of institutions that continue to invest in fossil fuels.
ARRCC members across the country have been key drivers of fossil fuel divestment decisions by faith-based organisations including the Jewish Moetzah, certain Anglican Dioceses, Uniting Church Synods, Religious Orders and Quaker communities. This campaign is fast-growing, and is perceived as so threatening to the fossil fuel lobby that they are fighting back.
Changing daily practices
Behaviour change is a vital part of curbing human-induced climate change. ARRCC is engaging faith communities in a variety of practical initiatives to reduce their ecological impact:
Ride to Worship Week – in 2010 ARRCC launched the inaugural Ride to Worship Week – an Australia-first faith-based sustainable transport campaign. Hundreds of people from faith communities across Australia answered the call to leave their cars at home and cycle, walk, share a lift or catch public transport to their religious activities.
Meat Free Day – to help reduce the environmental damage caused by animal farming, people in faith communities are being encouraged to reduce the meat in their diet.
Meat-free cooking workshop, Woolloomoolooo
Rewarding excellence – ARRCC believes in showcasing excellence and highlighting best practice in faith communities. In 2010, we presented 15 faith groups with awards for their environmentally sustainable practices. We continue to showcase such achievements – so that others can learn from them.
As a by-product of our shared commitment to climate action, ARRCC's religiously and culturally diverse members and supporters are also helping to create a climate of mutual understanding and collaboration in Australia. ARRCC's regular meetings bring together people from across the spectrum of religions – including the Baha'i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim faiths. We regularly contribute to multi-faith events. We also join with the wider community to participate in climate action – through initiatives like Walk Against Warming and Earth Hour.
For more detail on ARRCC's achievements, check out our Annual Reports.