Written by Tejopala Rawls, with thanks to Glen Klatovsksy, CEO of Climate Action Network Australia (CANA), for excellent notes that have informed this blog.
People of many faiths united in a vigil outside Prime Minister Albanese's office in Sydney during COP28.
So, what just happened?
COP28 has recently concluded in Dubai. It is being described, depending on who you listen to, as anything from “historic progress” to a “failure”. This is our attempt to make sense of the outcomes.
Overall, COP28 has provided much needed momentum, but we’re certainly not yet moving at the speed that we need, and time is running out.
People from the Pacific and other climate-vulnerable countries were disappointed that the final agreement is non-binding, lacks the ambition truly needed and includes ambiguities that allow countries to interpret the text in whatever way they prefer. The agreement fails with regard to fairness, and it will deliver far too little finance for adaptation and Loss and Damage.
Photo credit: Corbis via Getty Images
Read by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin:
I have the honour to read the Address that His Holiness Pope Francis prepared for this occasion:
Mr Secretary-General of the United Nations,
Distinguished Heads of State and Government,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Sadly, I am unable to be present with you, as I had greatly desired. Even so, I am with you, because time is short. I am with you because now more than ever, the future of us all depends on the present that we now choose. I am with you because the destruction of the environment is an offence against God, a sin that is not only personal but also structural, one that greatly endangers all human beings, especially the most vulnerable in our midst and threatens to unleash a conflict between generations.
To hear Cardinal Parolin deliver Pope Francis' prophetic, beautiful address, please view https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xF4AgpYjhws
This opinion piece by 97-year-old Uniting Church Minister, Rev. Alan Stuart, was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 29th November, 2023. It was after he was arrested, along with 108 others, for blockading the world's largest coal port.
See also this interview in SBS TV
I never would have guessed that, at 97, I would be arrested on a small boat blockading the world’s largest coal port for a climate protest. But last Sunday, at Rising Tide’s People’s Blockade, that’s what happened.
Along with more than 100 other people, I was arrested at the end of a 32-hour flotilla blockade of the Newcastle coal port, with hundreds more supporting us from the beach.
Senior leaders from Christian, Muslim and Buddhist faiths are visiting key Ministers and MPs in Canberra today to urge the Federal Labor Government to put an end to all new fossil fuel projects in Australia, and to listen to the voices of Pacific Island nations calling for Australia to phase out fossil fuels.
The faith leaders are bringing their message to Climate Minister Chris Bowen, Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Shadow Climate Minister Ted O’Brien.
This advocacy mission follows an open letter that more than 100 senior religious leaders from across Australia and the Pacific sent to Prime Minister Albanese last year calling an end to new coal and gas projects. Only one religious leader who signed received a reply.
A Buddhist response to the Uluru Statement from the Heart
In the Uluru Statement of the Heart Australia’s First Peoples call for a Voice enshrined in the Constitution, truth telling about Australia’s history and a process of agreement making between Governments and First Nations people. They invite us all to walk with them in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.
Developed by representatives of diverse Buddhist communities at a workshop convened by the Buddhist Council of NSW in Sydney on 2nd September 2023.
Image by Uluru Statement from the Heart
Authorised by Thea Ormerod on behalf of ARRCC, 264 Pitt St, Sydney. 2000.
Later this year we will vote in a referendum to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the Constitution and give them a say in issues that affect them through a Voice to Parliament. This arises from the Uluru Statement from the Heart, in which First Nations people invited all Australians to walk with them. ARRCC supports a Yes vote because we believe that it will enable us to be more effective when addressing the injustices that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have suffered since colonisation, and help create a more united Australia for us all.
The Uluru Statement From the Heart, which was signed by over 250 Indigenous leaders, says that “When we have power over our destiny our children will flourish. They will walk in two worlds and their culture will be a gift to their country.” It is an invitation to all Australians to walk with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples “in a movement of the Australian people towards a better future.”
Dear Prime Minister Albanese
Thank you for the dedicated way that your Government is approaching the many important issues that have needed urgent attention for so long.
You may remember the multi-faith open letter  published in the Australian Financial Review on 13th October 2022. I signed it on behalf of ARRCC, along with over a hundred other leaders of faith and First Nations organisations from across Australia and the Pacific. The letter’s message was supported by hundreds of people of faith who attended thirteen events across Australia and the Pacific.
We are now requesting a reply that addresses the concerns raised. To date, our understanding is that only one signatory (Bruce Henry, the Presiding Clerk of Quakers Australia) has received a reply from your office. It only partially addressed two of the requests made and did not address the other requests at all.
Since the publication of the open letter our concerns have become even more urgent.
Elijah Interfaith Ceremony in London, 13 Nov, during COP27. Credit: Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders.
The UN COP27 climate talks ended with some significant steps forward, a certain amount of holding the line and some steps backwards. Overall, given the contrast between what was achieved and the scale and urgency of the need to move forward, it would be overly optimistic to say the talks were successful.
In particular, there was no real progress on the ‘phasedown’ of coal, oil and gas, building on a call to phasedown coal at COP26 in Glasgow. Without a more rapid phasing out of fossil fuels, humanity is on track to far exceed 1.5℃ of global heating.
I-Kiribati youth climate activists. Photo credit: Br Tabunga Etuati.
One hundred religious and First Nations leaders from across Australia and the Pacific are urging Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to take decisive action to combat climate change by stopping all new coal and gas projects and ending public subsidies to the fossil fuel sector.
Signatories to an open letter to Mr Albanese include the most senior leaders of the Anglican Church in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, the President of the National Council of Churches, the Grand Mufti of Australia, the President of the Uniting Church as well as First Nations leaders and senior leaders of the Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu and Brahma Kumaris religions.
As floods swamp much of Australia, people of faith know that anything is possible with faith - even a safe climate future.
A recently published book, gives hope that we can act quickly enough to help the world ensure a safe climate future.
The Superpower Transformation was written and edited by eminent economist, Professor Ross Garnaut with contributions from other experts. It was discussed by Garnaut and prominent climate activist, scientist and author, Tim Flannery, as part of the La Trobe University Ideas and Society Program.