As fires burn across NSW and Queensland, people from diverse faith traditions considered their role in the climate crisis at the inaugural national conference of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC). The conference theme was “Faith in Action: a religious response to the climate emergency”.
Early in the conference, Professor Lesley Hughes of the Climate Council presented the science behind describing the current situation as an “emergency”. She demonstrated that the observable data on rising average global temperatures leads scientists to conservatively predict the kinds of phenomena as the unprecedented drought and fires that our fellow Australians are suffering today.
Pictured L to R: Dr Miriam Pepper, Assoc Prof Mehmet Ozalp, Prof Lesley Hughes, Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black. Photo credit: Thea Ormerod
Hundreds of people of faith have celebrated Time for Living the Change (Sep - Dec) in various capital cities, at gatherings organised by ARRCC. People affirmed each other in the steps they had already been taking towards more climate-conserving lifestyles, and challenged each other to think about further steps they could take. It was heartening to see how much people are already doing to reduce their climate impacts, and these were celebrated.
Air travel was acknowledged as particularly complex, so people interested in exploring this in a supportive context are being invited to participate in Grounding in Faith. The first webinar is being offered during Time for Living the Change by Renee Lertzmann in the US, who is well-known as a psychotherapist and climate communicator. See https://livingthechange.net/grounding-in-faith
credit: Julian Meehan
Three religious leaders and three lay people were arrested on Thursday, September 5th, at the site of Adani’s proposed Coal Mine in Central Queensland. Reverend Alex Sangster, Dharmacari Tejopala and Dharmacari Aryadharma refused a move on order by police, along with Christians, Mark Delaney, James Thom and Angela Merriam.
Six other Christians joined them blocking work at the site and called on Mr Gautam Adani to abandon the project. The group held a religious ritual of prayer and song in the direct route of Adani contractors preventing them from entering the workers’ camp.
credit: Olivia Rousset
More than 150 religious leaders from across Australia have issued an open letter calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to recognise Australia’s moral responsibility to avoid climate catastrophe and halt all new coal and gas projects.
The religious leaders span the spectrum of faiths and include the heads of the National Council of Churches, Muslims Australia, the Uniting Church in Australia and the Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils as well as the Grand Mufti of Australia, Bishops, senior Rabbis and leading theologians.
The letter was organised by Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC).
“Australia is facing an unprecedented climate crisis, and stopping new fossil fuel projects like the Adani mine is a moral imperative,” said Thea Ormerod, President, ARRCC.
At a family BBQ last weekend the conversation tentatively moved to politics. There were a few assertions about how deceptive various politicians were, but the conversation quickly moved to safer ground.
Some cultures talk a lot about politics, but Australians tend not to - it’s seen as a private matter and not good BBQ-time conversation.
But with an election around the corner, I’m going to break that taboo! I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, but I would suggest that climate change needs to be front and centre as we decide who’ll get our vote this Saturday. If climate matters to you, see this scorecard for the major Parties, put together by the Australian Conservation Foundation.
With a federal election on the horizon, how we vote as people of faith is very much a part of living authentic spiritual lives. Being spiritual does not give us an exemption from being “political”. Indeed, we are political whether we speak out or not, because to be silent when faced with injustices is to quietly collude, and is equally a political position. That’s why ARRCC regards it as important to offer a scorecard for people who want to make climate the key issue on which they vote.
FAITH LEADERS TO LABOR: WE WILL BLOCKADE
Several religious leaders have told key Labor MPs today that they are prepared to blockade at Adani’s Carmichael project sites and, if need be face arrest, in order to stop the mine from going ahead.
The announcement came at two interfaith ‘Funeral for Coal’ Vigils outside the offices of Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, and Shadow Environment Minister Tony Burke. The faith leaders’ basic concern is that, given that coal is a major driver of climate change, the world cannot afford the opening up of new coal mines.
Photo by Julian Meehan. Dharmachari Tejopala and Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black with group outside Bill Shorten's office.
Sign and send this letter to Labor
It’s true that Labor listens to pro-environmental advocates more than the Coalition ever has, but the Party has a long way to go when it comes to coal mining. In the SMH on 8 Feb, Chris Bowen said that Labor would not block Adani’s Carmichael mine if it wins office. No! This is all the more disappointing because Mr Bowen is the Shadow Treasurer, so a very influential person in the Shadow Cabinet. And he’s not the only influential Labor MP who thinks like this.
Please write to Mr Bowen with this template letter and let him know this is ethically unacceptable!
You are invited to edit the text, knowing your own words would be more effective. If your local MP is Labor, you have the opportunity to cc her/him so they know your views too.
Not all of us can get to the front lines to highlight the insanity of a new coal mining project which jeopardises our collective future. But some of us can. Greg Rolles is a Quaker and he is one of those people. Here he challenges readers to think outside the box.....
“I know you’ve been through this before, so I won’t bore you with the details.” The Queensland police sergeant had hold of my right arm stretched out in front of me, his constable my other. My legs were like jelly after spending three hours in the tripod. The constable had spent a significant amount of that time tapping a rock on the metallic structure trying to wear me out with the incessant banging, and I wondered how his arm was doing. I drew in a deep breath as I began my stay with Lady Justice. No, not Lady Justice. If the law were just, I’d be set free. Let me do that again.
Greg Rolles on a tripod. Photo credit: FLAC.
Towards the end of 2018, Rabbis across Melbourne were invited to meet with Scott Morrison, who I note is still described as ‘Our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, in case you might think that the position has changed hands again whilst you weren’t tuned in!
I had a discussion with my wife about whether I should dress in a suit, or wear my ‘Stop Adani’ T-shirt.