The election is a great opportunity for climate action!

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. 

Check out information about ARRCC's visits to MPs

Vigils outside of MP offices

Banners on places of worship

The world average temperature is now about 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, according to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This is causing more devastating climate events such as the recent massive floods and heat waves in Australia and the northern hemisphere, says the IPCC.

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said before last year’s UN Glasgow Climate Change Conference, Irreversible climate tipping points lie alarmingly close. Time is running out. We can either save our world or condemn humanity to a hellish future”.

That is why nearly all the world’s countries last November agreed to act now to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to zero by 2050 and to nearly half by 2030. However, Australia has not agreed to this and the Australian government’s 2030 target remains 26-28 percent below 2005 levels. It has been at this level since 2015.

Some people think that the cost of changing will be too high. Whatever the cost of change, it will be less than the cost of delaying, resulting in catastrophic weather events like the 2019/20 bushfires and the massive recent floods in Queensland.

At the last election, fossil fuel workers were worried about losing their jobs with the change to renewable energy. But they could retrain for new jobs – one million renewable energy jobs could be created in Australia – more than are in the fossil fuel industry, says the internationally acclaimed think tank, Beyond Zero Emissions.

According to renowned economist, Ross Garnaut, in his book SuperpowerAustralia could be an energy superpower supplying 100 percent of our electricity by the 2030s and exporting renewable energy.

No new oil, gas and coal supply projects should be built so the world can reach net-zero emissions by mid-century says the International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol.

Yet instead of acting on the science, the Australian Government announced last year that it was funding up to $600m for a gas-fired power plant in NSW Hunter region.

The government said the plant would provide reliable power when the sun didn’t shine and the wind didn’t blow. But that problem has been addressed.

According to the AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator), wind and solar farms, with ‘dispatchable’ power (including pumped hydro, gas plants and battery storage), will help replace retiring coal and gas plants.

The Commonwealth Government should underwrite new investment in renewable energy.

More than 190 global companies have committed to using 100 percent renewable energy including Apple, Google and General Motors. However, governments need to legislate standards such as for buildings, vehicles and industry, so many more businesses could plan and invest in renewable energy, according to Professor Jotzo director Centre for Climate Economics and Policy at the Australian National University.

The Climate Council says rich countries such as Australia have been the main cause of climate change; they can and need to reduce emissions more than poor countries, who have not been major emitters. Due to Australia’s very high level of emissions and our huge renewable energy resources, we should aim to reduce emissions by 75 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2035.

Australia should re-join the countries contributing to the Green Climate Fund to help developing countries limit or reduce their GHG emissions and to adapt to climate change.

We are at a turning point in history. What path will we choose? Health and prosperity, or climate devastation that will end life as we know it?

L to R: Lee Milroy, Maxine Ross, Fr Ron Perrett and Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP 

Before the federal election we can influence our government by telling our MPs we want action for stronger emissions reduction targets asap, at least according to the UN recommendations. The UN secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that global emissions must be reduced by 45 percent by the end of the decade to reach carbon neutrality by mid-century.

Climate Action Network Australia ultimately prefers much higher ambition, but sees a target of 50 percent or more by 2030 as an ‘ask’ that politicians would find more acceptable.

We can tell our MPs we want them to stop subsidising fossil fuels and instead subsidise renewable energy and help fossil fuel workers transition to renewable energy jobs. 

As people of faith, we believe we have a responsibility to care for the earth. We are told to love others. Therefore, we must do what we can ensure a safe climate future for the world and its creatures.

Now is the time to meet our MPs and to demand that they act now for a safe climate future. In order to make more impact perhaps several local faith communities could combine to send representative to meet their MPs.  We could tell our local newspapers and social media that we are meeting our MPs and our demands, or if we represent many faith communities this might warrant an article in a daily publication. This will place further pressure on our MPs to act effectively while showing the wider community how people of faith express love for others.

Marguerite Marshall is a journalist and Uniting Church member who has been trained as a climate reality leader by Al Gore.