Faith groups promote 'largest grassroots climate petition in Australia's history'

By Stephen Cauchi

September 21 2017 

About 25,000 people, led by faith communities, have signed an old-school pen-and-paper petition calling for the Australian Government to take stronger action on climate change.

The Community Climate Change petition was claimed by the organisers – including the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) – to be the “largest grassroots climate petition in Australia’s history”.

ARRCC President Thea Ormerod told TMA the strength of the petition was that it was an old-style hard copy petition, as opposed to a “slacktivist” online petition.

Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus collected signatures in 94 of Australia’s 150 electorates, ARRCC said.

The petition originally aimed at gathering 150,000 signatures, with all of Australia’s electorates covered.

It calls on the Government to take stronger action over carbon emissions, move towards renewable energy and support countries threatened by climate change.

To support the petition, leaders from the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Quaker and Christian communities gathered on the lawns of Parliament House, Canberra, on 6 September.

They called for strong bipartisan action on climate change.

Philippa Rowland, the President of the Multi-Faith Association of South Australia, called on all governments to take swift action to reduce carbon emissions.

“Australian politicians from all parties bear the responsibility to work for the common good, and must swiftly work together to address climate change as a global emergency,” Mrs Rowland said.

Negaya Chorley, Head of Advocacy at Caritas Australia - which also supported the petition – said there was an “urgent need to take action”.

“The impacts of climate change are increasingly being felt across Australia and the world,” Ms Chorley said.

“These included extreme weather events of greater frequency and ferocity, an alarming depletion in our natural heritage including the Great Barrier Reef and drought induced famines affecting millions of people.

“This year is an important one with the Australian Government reviewing its climate change policies. The petition is an example of the widespread community support for stronger emissions targets.”

The petition was supported by a coalition of faith-based organisations that also included Catholic Earthcare, Common Grace, Edmund Rice Centre, Pacific Calling Partnership and TEAR Australia.