25 April 2024

Religious activists plan to push for fossil fuel bans

Record global temperatures in the next five years are expected to lead to reduced rainfall in parts of Australia. Picture: iStock.

Jenan Taylor

23 May 2023

An interfaith climate advocacy body says it plans to step up its efforts to get coal and gas banned amid reports the world is closer to intolerable climate change.

The Australian Religious Response to Climate Change said equipping supporters to take practical action to stop the proliferation of fossil fuel industries was among its focuses in coming months.

It comes as the World Meteorological Organisation predicts record highs for global temperatures in the next five years, driven by human-caused greenhouse gases, and El Nino weather patterns.

Meteorologists say there is a high chance one of those years and the five-year period as a whole will be the warmest on record, and forecast reduced rainfall in parts of Australia and the Amazon.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change burning fossil fuels, particularly gas and coal, and land use, drove most human related greenhouse gas emissions.

ARRCC president Thea Ormerod said it planned to train interfaith supporters across the country to meet and talk with federal parliament representatives about stopping new gas and coal projects.

Ms Ormerod said the group also hoped to organise religious leaders to meet with federal Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek and ask her for bolder action against coal and gas projects.

Read more: Faith-based activists push for climate justice

It follows the federal government’s decision earlier in May to greenlight a new open cut coal mine in central Queensland.

Ms Ormerod said the move had frustrated the ARRCC and it aimed to encourage the minister to adopt a climate trigger bill into the government’s forthcoming revised Environmental Protection Biodiversity and Conservation Act.

A climate trigger would compel the government to consider the effects of emissions caused by large polluting projects, when making decisions about projects, The Guardian has reported.

A spokesperson for Minister Plibersek said the Albanese government had made its decision about the new coal mine in line with the facts and the national environment law, and that the government would consider each project on a case-by-case basis.

Ms Ormerod said that the ARRCC had also called on the Australian government to rule out new coal and gas projects, among other initiatives last year, but there was no response.

She said ARRCC and its supporters were also putting more energy into pressuring the National Australia Bank to stop financing the coal industry, and that the group was poised to join more protests to that end.

NAB said in a statement it was not financing any new thermal coal mining projects or any new and material expansions of coal-fired power generation facilities.

But NAB was part of an alliance of banks that provided financing to several coal and gas companies in Australia, according to environmental advocate Market Forces.

Ms Ormerod said the ARRCC was constantly focused on climate justice, and that the people least responsible for climate change were the ones who were suffering most because of it.

“Climate change is a symptom of a racist, colonialist, capitalist, exploitative, extractive mindset that’s taken hold of the world in the last few centuries,” Ms Ormerod said. “We just want to make a real world impact. We’re happy to work at a corporate level or political level. We just want the best outcomes for our grandchildren and for life on Earth.”

This article was updated on 25 May to include a response from a spokesperson for Minister Plibersek that the decision to approve a new central Queensland coal mine complied with national environment law.

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