ARRCC's letter to Minister for the Environment

Here is text of our August letter as a response to the emissions reductions target announced by our government.


Dear Minister

The Government’s recently announced 26% emissions reductions target on 2005 levels by 2030 should be revised upwards at the earliest opportunity.

We, and other faith leaders, visited you last year and emphasised Australia’s moral obligation to address climate change. We are now very disappointed.  Our frustration is shared all our colleagues cognisant of the urgent need for effective action.  You assured us that you knew how important a robust response to climate change was, but that there was no point in Australia acting alone.  Therefore you would be pushing for a strong worldwide agreement in Paris.

Clearly Australia’s very weak target can be nowhere near ‘the centre of the pack’ compared to other developed countries as your Government claims.  More importantly it is utterly inadequate given the vast amount of specialist scientific advice regarding the level of reductions necessary to have even a reasonable chance of restricting global warming to no more than 2 degrees – a figure which is in any case now widely revised down to 1.5 degrees.

The grudging possibility of a further 2% if there are more significant cuts by other nations is a hollow (and inadequate) offer. The moving of the base line from 2000 to 2005, a year of very high emissions, disguises the fact that 26% is less than 21% from 2000, and actually just 8% from our 1990 levels (the baseline used for the Kyoto agreements).

There are strong arguments that, far from protecting Australia’s economy and growth, you are actually doing quite the reverse. Increasingly, the average Australian recognises that they should be paying a little more to protect the future – and that the Government should be as well – and that savings can be made by using energy more wisely, for example by installing solar panels.

Renewables – and storage - are rapidly reducing in price and new solar is already cheaper than new coal, but large subsidies in Australia distort this and prop up the fossil fuel industry. Poverty-stricken populations will leap-frog dirty energy directly to renewables just as they moved directly to mobile phones, and we should be helping them with this transition whether in Australia or overseas.  

These messages are coming from all over – from the worldwide scientific community, from the health sector and increasingly from industry and the economic sectors as well.  The voice of the faith sector is growing stronger – from multi-faith groups such as our own, Pope Francis in his encyclical, Rabbis Against Climate Change, the Dalai Lama and now from Islamic leaders from 20 countries.  We all believe that we have a shared responsibility to act for a sustainable, bio-diverse, prosperous and fair future.

Yours sincerely

Thea Ormerod             Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black