March 11 was just the start of a Year of Action by faith communities around the world. Here's what we're doing next.
First, a huge thank you to everyone involved in the Sacred People Sacred Earth global day of action on March 11! All told there were 137 actions across Australia. It was by far the biggest multi faith day of climate organising there has ever been in Australia. We preached, prayed, chanted, rang bells, sang hymns, lit candles and incense, meditated, stood in silent witness and organised. Absolutely amazing. People from across so many faiths in every state and territory, city and town, all with one clear message: we want serious climate action and we want it now. There were more than 420 events worldwide in no fewer than 49 countries. The number of major faith organisations backing the statement and the day of action comes to more than 125 worldwide, with a conservative estimate of the number of people that represents being 100 million. There are some amazing photos from the day at the bottom of this page.
This is a crucial moment
All eyes this year are on Glasgow in November for the crucial next round of global climate negotiations called COP26. These will be the most important negotiations since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. Under the Paris Agreement, all countries have to increase their pledges, called Nationally Determined Contributions (or NDCs) every five years. This will be the first time this has happened. If you look at the pledges that have been submitted to date for the first 75 countries they average a reduction of only 1% on 2010 levels! We don’t have another five years to get this right. The climate system is too close to the edge. At the same time there is a new government in the USA with massively high ambition for climate action. The US is seeking to lead and push other countries to act much more boldly.
Australia is under pressure - with an election coming
The Australian Government has come under sustained pressure from the USA and the UK recently to get a lot more serious about climate action and to stop blocking global progress. This will only escalate as the COP26 summit draws nearer. At the same time there is a federal election coming. The whole climate movement in Australia is going to put couple the international pressure on the Morrison Government with domestic pressure. It will be hard, but this creates a real opportunity for change. And we can be part of that.
What we’re calling for
The GreenFaith International network of which ARRCC is a founding partner is focussing on four demands this year. These are four of the ten demands in the Statement. We are adding one of our own, also taken from the original list of ten.
Support for a sustainable, just recovery from COVID-19 that includes millions of Green Jobs. To this end ARRCC is calling for post-COVID recovery investment to be spent on boosting renewable energy and low carbon industries rather than funding a “gas-led recovery”. We are crucially also calling on the Australian Government to support an orderly, planned, just transition for communities currently dependent on the coal and gas industries.
Net zero by 2030 for wealthy nations like Australia
We are seeking a formal commitment from Australia under the Paris Accord to net zero emissions by 2030.
Equity / making polluters and rich countries pay for damages that have been done and supports people who have been the most impacted. ARRCC is calling on the Australian Government to provide substantial amounts of finance for the UN Green Climate Fund, additional to the aid budget.
No new fossil fuels or deforestation
No new fossil fuel infrastructure or exploration, no more deforestation, no more habitat or biodiversity loss.
Rapid transition to 100% renewables away from fossil fuels.
What's happening now?
Step One: getting organised
Very often it’s easy to feel like you’re the only one in your faith community who ‘gets it’ when it comes to the climate crisis. Yet the recent Sacred People Sacred Earth day of action has shown that even a few people in each congregation or community can really make a difference. There are more skills in community organising than meet the eye and the ARRCC team would like to help you build your skills and confidence as people of faith working for change.
We have never been this strong before. There are now well over 100 communities of faith across Australia who have taken a big step on March 11. We plan to help build this amazing movement of faith and to help you do so too by providing a training series that covers:
- How to build your local grassroots group in your faith community or congregation
- Community organising skills
- Political skills: choosing your issue, campaign, goals, strategy, tactics.
You’ll find you’re not alone. And you’ll be part of something big too - a nationwide and international movement of faith communities demanding change at a crucial moment. And later this year we’ll also offer training in media and social media. Not to be missed.
We are offering two workshops on how to engage others in your faith community, your network or local area and get behind the global Year of Action (below).
This will be offered on three occasions. Please come to any one of these three.
Wednesday May 26
7 to 8.30pm Sydney / Melbourne time
You will receive the Zoom link when you RSVP here.
This will also be offered on three occasions. Please come to any one of these three.
Wednesday June 2
7 to 8.30pm Sydney / Melbourne time
You will receive the Zoom link when you RSVP here.
Step two: talking to people in your faith community
If you were involved in any way in the Day of Action on March 11, we’d love it if you would get together with everyone who was involved in your event on the day to talk about a few things.
- Please show them the amazing photos and videos you can find here and here.
- Please show people this video in particular
- Let them know just how big a thing they were part of - 137 events across Australia and 420 worldwide in 49 countries!
- Ask them to join this Facebook group of people all over the world just like them who organised something for March 11 so you can see what everyone else it up to!
- Let them know that another global Day of Action is coming in October or November right before the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow
- Tell them that this is one part of a Year of Action and our plans for that (below)
Ask them to brainstorm two things
- If you were going to be involved again in another Day of Action (see below), how would you do it next time even better?
- If there were one other faith community or congregation you could ask to get involved in the next Day of Action, who might that be?
Step three: challenge your local MP
As part of the Year of Action all around the world people of faith will be putting pressure on their elected representatives to say where they stand in relation to our demands. In Australia we also have a federal election coming, so now is the time to ask our own local federal MPs to make a public commitment as to where they stand on these. We will then publicly rate them against the demands. These ratings will then be posted on a platform online to show that across the world, people of faith are advocating for stronger climate policies and support from their elected leaders.
Start by seeking a meeting
If possible, we let's meet our MPs face-to-face to ask them to commit in public as to where they stand in relation to our demands. They may not give us a meeting, or they may refuse to commit to one of more of them, in which case we escalate!
Faith-based vigils outside MPs' offices
For those MPs who fall short of publicly backing our demands we hold public faith-based vigils outside their offices. We will provide templates for doing this shortly on this page. Time to get creative! If they continue to refuse to publicly commit to them we might choose hold a second or a third vigil, if you want to. Do invite the local media to cover the story. It will certainly be embarrassing for any MP as Election Day draws closer.
Signs outside places of worship
The next level of escalation for an MP who won't commit is to put up signs outside our places of worship in the electorate demanding bold climate action. You can do that here.
Step four: another global day of action
This will take place at the beginning of the COP26 Climate Summit in a way that highlights those four demands by ringing bells, singing, praying, meditating, calling the Azan, sounding the shofar and taking our faith and our determination into the street.This will be even bigger than last time. The exact date has yet to be confirmed. However COP26 runs from November 1 to 12, so it will be during or soon before these dates.
Step five: keeping up the pressure on our MPs
After the Day of Action there may still be a few months until Election Day. We can keep up the pressure on local MPs who don't commit to our demands with vigils and signs as mentioned above.
Bonus extra: writing to the Prime Minister
In each one of our faith communities let's ask everyone who was involved on March 11, and as many others as possible, to write old-fashioned hand-written letters to Prime Minister Scott Morrison asking for serious climate action. We'll provide more information soon, including a guide to writing the letters. We will collect all the letters together in one place and then take them in person to his office to hand them over. Watch this space!
All the way along: more signatures for the Statement
A crucial part of the Year of Action is the multi faith Statement.This has been signed by hundreds of high-profile leaders of a wide range of faiths as well as thousands of regular people of faith. Please ask as many people of faith as you can to sign this. We plan to publicly announce the final number just before COP26 in November.
Some of the signatories to the statement to date have been very high-profile. There is Archbishop Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury and the Vatican Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Turkson. The full list is here.
And here are some photos from March 11. What an extraordinary day!
St Francis Xavier Cathedral in Adelaide. Surely the spirit of Laudato Si lives here!
Outside Prime Minister Scott Morrison's office
On the steps of the South Australian Parliament
In Cairns outside the office of Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, Warren Entsch MP
At St Philip's Anglican in Melbourne - the first Sacred People Sacred Earth event in the world!
Quakers bearing silent witness outside the office of federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg MP in Melbourne
Multi faith group outside the Wesley Uniting Church in Perth
Pitt Street Uniting Church in Sydney drawing an SBS TV camera. Complete with bagpipes and Robertson tartan!
In Indooripilly, Brisbane, the unofficial slogan was on display!
Parramatta Cathedral getting ready to ring their bells
There are many, many more, including videos on this Flickr album.