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PM cops 600 hand-written letters from religious people on climate

By Stephen Cauchi 

21 September 2021

Religious Australians have protested the Federal Government’s stance on climate change ahead of the Glasgow conference by writing over 600 hand-written letters to Prime Minister Scott Morrison. 

The campaign – organised by the multi-faith Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) – culminated on September 10, when the letters were presented “in one large stack” to the Prime Minister’s office.

The chair of ARRCC, Thea Ormerod, said the campaign was designed to change the Government’s policies on carbon emissions prior to the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.

The  Conference will run between 31 October and 12 November.

Ms Ormerod said the letters called on the Morrison Government to submit higher emissions reduction targets in Glasgow; re-start contributions to the United Nations Green Climate Fund; and abandon a “gas-led recovery” in favour low carbon industries.

“Research shows that old-fashioned hand-written letters to politicians are much more likely to get read than emails, so it’s well worth the effort,” Ms Ormerod said, adding that anyone now wishing to write a letter should mail it directly to the Prime Minister’s office in Canberra.

“One thing we can achieve by writing hundreds of letters is to show that people of faith care deeply about this crisis and that concern about it cannot be dismissed as something ‘mainstream’ people don’t care about. We very definitely do.”

Ms Ormerod said Mr Morrison continues to spin Australia’s emissions reductions as “meeting and beating our targets” and achieving “more than most other similar economies”. 

“These claims just don’t stack up,” she said.

Mr Morrison has pledged Australia would cut emissions, based on 2005 levels, by 26 to 28 per cent by 2030.

But Ms Ormerod said this was not sufficient. The cut in emissions should instead be 66 per cent, she said.

“We need our targets to be comparable to those of the US (50 per cent) and preferably the UK (68 per cent).”

She added that 2021 was a “crucial” year for climate change.

“Not only is it the lead-up to the most important global climate negotiations held since Paris, our Prime Minister is getting international pressure from the UK, the USA and others to stop blocking international progress and start getting Australia to pull its weight. 

“It’s also the lead-up to a federal election.”

ARRCC will be participating in a global “Faiths 4 Climate Justice Day of Action” on 17/18 October, which will involve “hundreds of Australian faith communities”.

“They will be calling on the Morrison Government to take much stronger climate policies to the negotiations,” Ms Ormerod said.

What people wrote…

Pastor Rob Buckingham, Bayside Church, Melbourne

Our faith teaches us that we should care for God’s creation. I appeal to the Prime Minister as a man of faith and ask him to carefully consider his government’s responsibility to ensure the earth’s environment is protected for the generations to come.

The earth’s climate is no longer changing incrementally but it is changing at an accelerating pace. The intensity of climate-fuelled disasters is increasing world-wide, causing extreme human suffering. We Christians cannot walk on the other side, worried about the cost of taking action. The costs of not taking action are being paid by the world’s poor and younger generations.

Australia has a moral responsibility to urgently wind back our coal and gas exports and scale up our use of renewables. To do this compassionately, communities currently dependent on coal and gas should receive public support for locally developed plans to diversify their local economies.

Just as individuals are called to live ethical lives, as a nation we should do what is right, not what suits the short-term political or economic advantage of particular groups. Australia should aim for at least two-thirds emissions reduction in the next decade in order to keep global warming to under 2 degrees celsius.

Co-President of the Muslim Collective, Fahimah Badrulhisham

The world needs to act urgently and swiftly at COP26 but fairness suggests that Australia, one of the world’s biggest coal producers, should do much more to pull our weight. 

We have both the economic capacity and moral responsibility to drive down our emissions. Therefore, Australia must re-start contributions to the Green Climate Fund to assist our neighbouring countries to adapt to the climate impacts that they are already experiencing. 

They have emitted far less greenhouse gases than us, but they are the first to bear the brunt of this crisis. This is a question of basic justice.

The Revd Meredith Williams, Wentworthville Uniting Church

People in Western Sydney are very vulnerable to heatwaves, especially those living in poverty. More generally, Australians are very vulnerable to droughts, fires and floods and climate change will make these much worse for our children and grandchildren. Our governments are failing in their primary duty to keep people safe.

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