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.
“Coal is dead and we are ready to bury it” said Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black today outside Mr Shorten’s office before sounding a note his rabbinical shofar, or ram’s horn “to signal the end of the era of coal.”As well as Rabbi Keren-Black, those willing to face arrest include a Baptist pastor, four ordained Buddhists, an Anglican priest, a Uniting Church minister and a Sister of Mercy, as well as dozens of regular followers from different faith traditions.
Similar Vigils were held in the previous week by Fr Rod Bower on the NSW Central Coast, and outside the office of Chris Bowen in Western Sydney. Mr Bowen, the Shadow Treasurer, stated in February that Labor would not block a new Adani coal mine.
The Vigils were organised by the multi-faith grassroots organisation, the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC).
ARRCC spokesperson, Reverend Alex Sangster of the Uniting Church, has already been arrested once in November 2017. She was blocking access to work on the rail line to the Adani mine, and she is prepared to be arrested again.
“Life as we know it is under threat,” said Rev. Sangster. “If our elected representatives do not stop Adani’s planned coal mine, I will join civil resistance efforts to help stop it.”
This echoes the stand taken last December by the Anglican Dean of St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane, the Very Reverend Dr Peter Catt.
“When people in power resist people’s just claims for positive change, peaceful civil resistance has historically proven necessary. Right now, Labor is not on the right side of history,” said Rev. Sangster.
In 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that global thermal coal use must drop by at least 59 per cent in the next 10 - 12 years if we are to avoid 1.5 Degree C warming.
Prominent faith leaders have also spoken out on the urgency of the challenge. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has called climate change a “moral crisis” and “the human thumb on the scale, pushing us toward disaster.” Pope Francis stated in his famous encyclical, Laudato Si’, “Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony and disdain.”
Media contact: Thea Ormerod, ARRCC President
[email protected] or 0405 293 466
Spokesperson: Reverend Alex Sangster, 0411 292 273, [email protected]