It is entirely reasonable for each Party and each candidate at the coming election to make their climate policies sound as desirable as possible. The question is, what claims have substance and what is empty spin?
With each candidate offering a sales pitch, everyday Australians can be forgiven for being confused about whether or not Labor’s climate policies offer a better alternative to those of the Coalition, and what Greens and independents are really offering. It is most important to get this clear.
In this article, we will try to dispassionately offer some clarity on climate policies being offered. ARRCC is nonpartisan, and attempts to offer an unbiased evaluation of what is being offered by various parties and candidates in relation to what is required to stay below 1.5 degrees of warming.
Photo: Lismore street in March 2022. Credit: Harry Creamer.
Here we go again. In northern NSW and south-east QLD we are again witnessing a high intensity rainfall and flood crisis. Lismore is suffering terrible flooding, the Clarence River is about to overflow its banks, and if the weather system moves south, Port Macquarie will get hit again, less than a year after the record-breaking floods in March 2021.
At times like this, we must respond with facts on what is driving such extreme weather. Since the north QLD floods in 2019, there have been 137 disasters declared in 398 local government areas, covering close to 20 million Australians. This is an on-going threat to our safety and security and local economies.
Humanity is interfering with natural Earth systems. As we burn fossil fuels and destroy forests, we are adding energy to the climate.
The approaching federal election is a great opportunity to help achieve a safe climate for our offspring and those who follow. It is also an important opportunity to demonstrate to our increasingly secular society, that people of faith show love with action.
What Australia does can make a difference for a safe climate future. Australia is the world’s second-largest thermal coal exporter, (used for electricity generation). (Source: Australian Government – Geoscience Australia)
ARRCC is offering opportunities for people interested in faith-based advocacy for Australia to move from laggard to climate action leader.
Youth activists, Indigenous people, and parents marking the end of COP26. Photo credit: Duncan McGlynn/AP for AVAAZ
COP26 resulted in modest progress towards reducing climate pollution this decade and, to a lesser extent, to increase support vulnerable communities. Alongside the international negotiations themselves, COP26 was the chosen forum for a number of very positive announcements by groups of countries, or by countries and non-State actors together.
However, the world has a great deal further to go and there's not much time. Many activists, especially those from Indigenous communities and low-income, climate-impacted countries are left deeply disappointed. Even if all pledges are implemented, we remain on track for 1.8–2.6˚C, and keeping warming to 1.5˚C hangs by a fine thread.
Photo credit: Julie-Anne Richards
For this summary, we have drawn from a report by our our friends in Climate Action Network Australia who are at COP26. It could rightly be said that much depends on pledges being acted on and, even then, they fall short of what is needed. However, the first week saw many encouraging announcements and pledges from world leaders - a major slowing of deforestation, a methane pledge and, for the first time, signalling the phasing out of coal if the pledges come to fruition.
(Read past this article for opportunities for prayer and meditation, and for hearing reflections from people of faith at COP26.)
A letter from the Right Rev'd Keith Joseph to the Anglican Diocese of North Queensland
I am writing this e-mail from the Torres Strait, having spent the previous weekend at Pormpuraaw in the Cape York Peninsula. It is in these places that the impacts of climate change are undoubtedly being seen. It is not just rising sea levels, but also the increased heat, the changing of seasons, the effects on wildlife. When the scientific consensus is that we are in serious danger; when the conservative British Prime Minister Boris Johnson describes us as facing doomsday; and when other radicals such as the Queen are urging action on climate change NOW; we can no longer hide from the obvious dangers of human induced climate change.
(This article has links to opportunities for join others in prayer and meditation.)
Very Rev'd Dr Peter Catt, Fr Peter Moore and ARRCC supporters in Brisbane. Credit: Peter Branjerdporn
Faith communities across Australia have held vigils on Monday, 18th October, 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, especially a stronger target for the year 2030.
A group of 50 people, including a dozen clergy of various faiths and Catholic Religious, 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.
Part of a global multi-faith ‘day of action’ which spanned over two days, 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, some with corporate targets such as BlackRock and others challenging deforestation.
Over six hundred people of faith from around Australia have penned hand-written letters calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to do more to protect the climate. After the recent high profile scientific warnings and before the United Nations Climate Summit in Glasgow, people of faith are pleading with the Prime Minister to act now and act vigorously on a plan to reduce our climate pollution.
The letters were collected and sent this week by the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC). They are calling on the Morrison Government to submit higher emissions reduction targets to negotiations in Glasgow, re-start contributions to the United Nations Green Climate Fund and abandon a ‘gas-led recovery’ in favour of job creation in low carbon industries.
Image of Scott Morrison after release of IPCC Report, gratefully borrowed from ABC News site
When does a government’s effort to put its best foot forward veer into misrepresenting the truth? Having written heart-felt pleas for ambitious climate policies, people of faith have been receiving replies from Prime Minister Scott Morrison and their local Members which could flummox the average voter.
How much truth is in the ‘spin’? Have environmentalists been unduly alarmed at Australia’s poor performance on reducing greenhouse gas pollution? Catherine and David Rossiter are pro bono Christian researchers, members of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), who have done a careful analysis of one of the Prime Minister’s letters received in June, 2021.
They find no evidence of a ‘strong track record of setting, achieving and exceeding our commitments’. Indeed, they write that the sixth Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC) Report released in August actually ‘ranks Australia near the bottom of the list in terms of effective action’.
Churches call for climate ambition ahead of COP26
Senior Churches spokesperson, Bishop Philip Huggins, has described the United Nations COP26 climate talks as possibly the “last chance to save our planet” in a strongly worded letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison. He joined those who are calling on Mr Morrison to take “leadership” by announcing more ambitious emissions reduction targets and to do this well ahead of the summit in November.
Bishop Huggins is President of the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) which includes most of the nation’s Churches, and is connected with the World Council of Churches and world-wide Anglican Communion.
(pictured: Bishop Philip Huggins near Meditation Vigil outside Treasurer's office, Global Multi-Faith Day of Action 11th March)