ARRCC has assembled a collection of statements by faith leaders in Australia and overseas, demonstrating the links between the beliefs of the world's major religions, and action on climate change. To read these statements, click on the links in the column on the right.
Media Release: Senior faith leaders call on Albanese to increase ambition on climate
Thursday, 13 October, 2022
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.
Their letter states: “Australia is a wealthy country that profits from exports that are causing the crisis. We hear the cries of anguish from those most vulnerable in the human family who are losing their lives, livelihoods and homes through climate-fuelled disasters.
“The current level of warming is not safe. This moment in history calls for an urgent, courageous, visionary response, especially from those in power. Australia’s leadership in this response, as part of its First Nations Foreign Policy, is vital for the vulnerable communities and ecosystems who depend on it.”
Rev. James Bhagwan, the General Secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches, said, “We in the Pacific have welcomed the willingness of the new Australian Government to listen to the peoples of the Pacific.”
“However, coal and gas from Australia are a threat to our survival - and it doesn’t matter where they’re burned. Whether Australian coal and gas is burned overseas or on Australian soil, our homes and cultures are threatened either way. New coal and gas projects are a death sentence to the Pacific way of life and life in the Pacific,” he said.
Today in major cities across Australia, everyday people of faith are showing support for their message by attending multi-faith services for climate justice at cathedrals and other well-known places of worship. The cathedrals include St Paul’s in Melbourne, St Patrick’s in Parramatta, St Mary’s in Perth and St John’s in Brisbane.
The faith leaders have furthermore called on the Prime Minister to restart contributions to the UN’s Green Climate Fund. This is widely viewed in low-income countries as a crucial test of how seriously wealthy countries take their responsibilities. Other ‘asks’ are that First Nations peoples’ rights to protect Country are fully respected, that there be an orderly and supported transition for coal and gas dependent communities, and endorsement of a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The proposed treaty aims to eventually stop the production and export of fossil fuels by participating nations. Noting that global emissions keep rising, advocates believe the current focus at climate talks on the consumption side of fossil fuels are undermined by the lack of international constraints on production.
The Treaty has already been endorsed by Pope Francis, the World Health Organisation, Vanuatu, and Tuvalu, among others.
As well as attending the public services today, some devotees spent the whole of last night together in meditation, prayer, chanting and in some cases fasting to show their depth of feeling about the issue.
Reverend John Gilmore, the President of the National Council of Churches said “This is about putting loving our neighbours into practice. The government needs to listen to our neighbours in the Pacific. This letter echoes what Pacific leaders said earlier this year at the Pacific Islands Forum: Australia needs to rule out new coal and gas and to stop subsidising those industries.”
The letter and the services were organised by the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change as part of a global faith campaign known as “Faiths 4 Climate Justice”. The campaign is taking place in over forty countries during the lead-up to the COP27 global climate summit in early November in Egypt, and advocates for the endorsement of a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Letter to PM from Christian Churches before COP26, 15 October, 2021
To: The Hon. Scott Morrison, MP Prime Minister of Australia
Cc: Hon Barnaby Joyce MP Hon Angus Taylor MP Senator the Hon Marise Payne Senator the Hon Zed Seselja
From: National Council of Churches in Australia, 379 Kent Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Dear Prime Minister,
COP26 and Australia’s role in addressing catastrophic climate change
We write to you as people of faith who believe the Earth, our common home, is a precious gift created by God, that all life is interdependent, and that we have a responsibility to care for all people and all creation.
Human activity is contributing to changing our climate and the consequences are already dire. Many of our churches are located at the front lines of climate change impacts and are sounding the alarm for the wellbeing of the communities they serve.
There is widespread scientific consensus that this situation and the resulting human suffering will only become catastrophically worse unless we change direction.
For this reason, we believe climate change is a moral imperative. One that requires urgent action in partnership with the international community and alongside our Pacific family.
We believe Australia can be a leader and champion of ambitious climate action and should pursue a path that gives the greatest hope for the future of God’s creation.
To that end, as the 26th Conference of the Parties approaches, we urge the Australian Government to commit to:
- Scale up Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction target to at least 50% and ambitiously aim for 74% to help limit global temperature rise to less than 1.5 C, and pledge to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 in line with most developed nations
- A national climate policy and plan for a just, equitable and rapid transition to a low-carbon economy that drives down greenhouse gas pollution
A just and sustainable transition for communities currently dependent on carbon intensive industries for employment, and investment in renewable energy policies that support people, nations and ecosystems that are most vulnerable to climate change, including measures to strengthen the resilience of communities and support people and the services they rely on to adapt to the effects of climate change.
We offer this letter with an awareness of our own responsibilities to address climate change. Every member and part of society has a role to play, but a stronger and more ambitious climate agenda from the Australian Government is critical to address the enormous challenge that lies before us. We beliee Australia is ready.
Yours in faith,
Bishop Philip Huggins, President, National Council of Church in Australia
The Most Reverend Geoffrey Smith, Primate, Anglican Church of Australia
Rev. Mark Wilson, National Ministries Director, Australian Baptist Ministries
Rev. Sharon Hollis, President, Uniting Church in Australia
Dr. Rob Nyhuis, Chair, Churches of Christ in Australia
Rev. James Bhagwan, General Secretary, Pacific Conference of Churches
Commissioners Janine & Robert Donaldson, The Salvation Army
Ann Zubrick, Presiding Clerk, The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Australia
Bishop Albert Wong, Chinese Methodist Church in Australia
Keith Lyons, General Secretary, The Congregational Federation of Australia and New Zealand
Archbishop Haigazoun Najarian, Primate, Armenian Apostolic Church of Australia and New Zealand
Media Release (excerpt): Faith communities worldwide sound the alarm on climate, 11 March 2021
Over one hundred local faith communities across Australia from diverse traditions will hold events today as part of a major global multi faith Day of Action to ‘sound the alarm’ for the climate. Across 40 countries, religious organisations representing 100 million members are holding actions to ‘sound the alarm’ at the yawning gap between what is required to limit global temperature rise and actual commitments by governments and financial institutions.
Churches will ring their Bells, Rabbis will sound the shofar, Imams will call the Azan and some groups will hold silent Vigils to draw attention to a series of calls on Prime Minister Scott Morrison for climate justice.
There will also be multi-faith Vigils outside the offices of the Prime Minister, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, Warren Entsch.
The Day of Action is in support of a “Sacred People, Sacred Earth” Statement signed by very prominent religious leaders including the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the Vatican Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Turkson.
There are also high-profile Australian signatories including Bishop Philip Huggins, President of the National Council of Churches, and Bishop Vincent Long of the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta. The Statement has been signed by over 200 faith leaders and thousands of people from a very wide range of faiths.
The signatories seek net zero emissions for wealthy countries by 2030, a leap ahead of net zero by 2050. The Statement also calls for economic recovery money to be spent on renewables rather than fossil fuels, and that governments “must not perpetuate an outdated economic system that relies on fossil fuels and the destruction of the very forests, waters, oceans and soils that make life possible.”
Australian signatories are calling on Scott Morrison’s Government to submit higher emissions reduction targets that are in line with a net zero target by 2030 this year in the lead-up to the crucial COP26 negotiations in Glasgow. Instead of a “gas-led recovery”, they want post-COVID recovery spending to be on low carbon jobs, and for finance to be provided to the UN Green Climate Fund for developing countries.
In Australia, the lead organisation is the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), which is part of GreenFaith International.
To sign the statement, go to Sign on to Sacred People, Sacred Earth! (actionnetwork.org) The full versions of the statement can be accessed by clicking the link to the translation in your language (in red) at the top of the page, eg, 'English', 'Arabic'.
Media Release: Faith institutions call for a just recovery by divesting from fossil fuels, 18 May, 2020
Bailouts and recovery packages must not empower polluters
As major challenges for the global economy are predicted in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, a diverse group of faith institutions is putting the call for a just economic recovery into practice. This media release says why 42 faith institutions from 14 countries announced their divestment from fossil fuels on May 18, 2020. This is the largest-ever joint announcement of divestment from fossil fuels from faith institutions. It comes from institutions in Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Myanmar, Spain, the UK, and the United States.
As governments around the world make substantial investments in an economic recovery, faith communities urge them to think long term and focus on a recovery that is low-carbon and just.
Faith leaders urge PM to show moral leadership on climate, Australia, Feb 2020
Senior leaders from faith communities with over 10 million members across Australia have urged Prime Minister Scott Morrison to show leadership after Australia’s devastating summer by committing to stronger climate action and urgently scaling up the adoption of alternatives to coal, oil and gas. https://www.arrcc.org.au/letter
Interfaith Declaration on Climate Change for COP25, Madrid, 2019
Faith Communities demand Climate Justice
#NoFaithInCoal open letter, Australia, June 2019
More than 150 religious leaders from across Australia have issued an open letter calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to recognise Australia’s moral responsibility to avoid climate catastrophe and halt all new coal and gas projects. The letter was organised by ARRCC.
L to R: Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black, Thea Ormerod, Gawaine Powell Davies, Ahmed Abdo, Sr Libby Rogerson ibvm
Religious Declaration of Unprecedented Human Emergency
National Religious Coalition on Creation Care, May 2019
Parliament of the World’s Religions - COP24, Luknow
A Parliament of the World’s Religions Letter Urging Nations to Reaffirm Climate Commitments to the Leaders of COP24
November 20, 2018
Declaration on Climate Change of the 2015 Parliament of World's Religions, 13 October, 2015
Statement from Jubilee Caribbean
Statement from Jubilee Caribbean, March 5, 2018
Read the statement here.
Walk on Earth Gently 2017
During the 23rd Conference of Parties climate (COP23) negotiations in 2017, an Interfaith Statement was published, “Walk on Earth Gently”. While it recognised the continuing importance of systemic change, it was an invitation to reduce our personal impact on the earth by reducing emissions from transport, food waste and home energy use, and by adopting a plant-based diet.
The Statement became the foundation for the current Living the Change initiative.
Statements on Paris climate talks, 2015
Indigenous Elders and Medicine Peoples Council Statement, United Nations Convention on Climate Change
COP21 Paris, France, November 30 - December 11, 2015
Multi-Faith Peace Mandala
Statement of Faith and Spiritual Leaders, issued on October 20th, on the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP21 in Paris in December 2015
Religious Leaders' Open Letter
ARRCC's Religious Leader Ambassadors have released a number of Open Letters on Climate Change, addressed to our political leaders and to the Australian Public.
The video clip below features a part of the letter originally composed in the lead-up to the 2013 Federal elections. These letters stand as evidence of the united stance of people of faith on climate change.
A Common Belief
A Common Belief, a collection of statements from representatives of all major religions in Australia, compiled by The Climate Institute.
Common Belief includes statements for: Aboriginal people, Anglicans, The Australian Christian Lobby, Baha'i believers, Baptists, Buddhists, Catholics, Evangelical Christians, Greek Orthodox, Hindus, Jewish People, Lutherans, Muslims, the Salvation Army, Sikhs and the Uniting Church.