23 September 2023

Christians together lobby for climate justice

MP Peter Khalil, Reverend Len Firth and Senator Penny Wong at climate event.

By Stephen Cauchi

18 November 2021

CHRISTIANS are praying, lamenting and petitioning together in Melbourne’s north to confront climate change and the federal government’s stance on global warming.

Christians Together for Climate coordinator and Ridley College lecturer Reverend Len Firth said the group’s action sprang from a desire to show Christian love of neighbour through concern for the poor. 

Mr Firth said the group hoped to “move the debates” through its actions.

“Climate change adversely affects the poor over the rich,” he said.

“It springs from our belief that the Earth is the Lord’s and we’re called to be accountable stewards for the way that we use the earth and the way that we love our neighbour.”

One of the group’s goals when it formed in 2020 was to pray for last month’s United Nations climate conference Glasgow COP26.

It has also organised to meet with the electorate’s MP, Peter Khalil, who attended the Glasgow conference as part of the Australian Labor Party contingent.

Mr Firth said Mr Khalil seemed very open to listening to the group’s concerns, as part of a continuing conversation.

He said the group had communicated to Mr Khalil – known for his refugee advocacy – that refugees were one of the consequences of climate change

Mr Firth said the group would continue after the Glasgow climate conference, to make sure politicians honoured the commitments they had made

He said there was some “pretty significant leadership” at the Glasgow climate but some “very sad” absences.

Mr Firth said Australia’s commitment to reducing climate emissions was better than hoped for 12 months ago, but the method and the plan were very undeveloped.

“Personally I was not very impressed with some of the debate that was going on in Australia before the lead up to COP26 and some of the things at COP26 have been a bit overshadowed by French-Australian relations,” he said.

“I really appreciated finally at last we got to some commitment to net zero by 2050 but that’s probably not going to help us very much. We need more urgent action.

Christians Together for Climate is an initiative of relief and development agency Tearfund Australia and the online Christian movement Common Grace. The group Mr Firth is part of is based in the federal seat of Wills, while other branches are active in other electorates.

Other churches involved in the non-denominational group include St Augustine’s Moreland, the Salvation Army, Brunswick Uniting Church and the Brunswick Baptist Church.

Mr Firth said Christians Together for Climate hoped to expand, recently writing a letter to churches in the Wills electorate seeking new members.

“We are one of many electorates across Australia where small groups of Christians are making similar contact with their local members to raise the urgency and importance of these issues,” he said.

Find the petition online at: tearfund.org.au/forallcreation.

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