More than 150 religious leaders from across Australia have issued an open letter calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to recognise Australia’s moral responsibility to avoid climate catastrophe and halt all new coal and gas projects.
The religious leaders span the spectrum of faiths and include the heads of the National Council of Churches, Muslims Australia, the Uniting Church in Australia and the Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils as well as the Grand Mufti of Australia, Bishops, senior Rabbis and leading theologians.
The letter was organised by Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC).
“Australia is facing an unprecedented climate crisis, and stopping new fossil fuel projects like the Adani mine is a moral imperative,” said Thea Ormerod, President, ARRCC.
“Australia is the largest exporter of both coal and gas globally and one of the largest per capita polluters. We have an urgent duty to change this, and protect all life on earth”.
“As one of the world’s sunniest and windiest countries, Australia has the means to address the global climate crisis by building a strong, renewables-powered economy that benefits Australia and our overseas brothers and sisters, and cares for our common home.
“Faith leaders are so concerned about this moral challenge that they have come out in unprecedented numbers to call for climate action. Some are even willing to face arrest to stop the Adani mine,” said Ormerod.
“Climate change is hurting people in Australia and beyond, and we have a moral responsibility to put a stop to this” said Loreto Sister Libby Rogerson.
“By burning fossil fuels, and supporting new coal and gas projects, we fuel worsening extreme weather, crop failures and sea level rise, among other disasters; and we move further away from loving God and God’s Creation, and loving our neighbour.
“We have a sacred responsibility to care for the Earth and all living beings, especially the vulnerable people on the frontlines of climate change. This is why we feel compelled to publicly urge our leaders, who are failing in their own duty to protect Australia’s people and places, to do better,” said Sister Rogerson.
Dr Gawaine Powell Davies, President, Buddhist Council of New South Wales, said: “True leadership means keeping all people healthy, safe, and secure; not speeding up the decline towards a more unstable future. As the world’s largest coal exporter, Australia has a great responsibility, and great power, to address the climate crisis.”
The religious leaders also backed the demands of the school strike movement, which called on Australian leaders to stop the Adani mine, commit to no new coal or gas projects and move to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
“We appreciate that an energy transition will be challenging, and recognise the importance of ensuring that coal communities are not left behind,” said Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black.
“But the only moral way forward is helping workers and coal communities access alternative livelihoods and access new economic opportunities. Refusing to plan for the transition from coal to renewable energy is a leadership failure that hurts us all,” said Rabbi Keren-Black.
Letter to the Prime Minister
Dear Prime Minister,
Congratulations on winning office. We wish you well as you form your new Government.
We are from many faith communities and from all across Australia. Today, we are speaking with one voice.
As you set your agenda, we ask you to make addressing the problem of climate change your number one priority.
The climate situation is much more than a political or even a scientific issue. It is a profoundly moral one.
These are times unlike any known before. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns us that nothing short of strong and immediate action on all fronts will avert massive threats to the climate system on which life on Earth depends. It is no overstatement to call this an emergency.
Many faith leaders around the world have made their views on this matter known. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has called climate change a “moral crisis” and “the human thumb on the scale, pushing us toward disaster.” A group of senior Buddhist leaders including His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrote to world leaders in 2015 saying that “through our lack of insight, we are destroying the very life support systems that we and all other living beings depend on for survival.” Pope Francis stated in his famous encyclical, “Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony and disdain.”
The part played by Australia in the response to this emergency is crucial. The IPCC has now told the world that global thermal coal use must drop by at least 59 per cent in the next 11 years if we are to avoid 1.5 Degree C warming. Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter, so we clearly have a particular moral responsibility to stop developing polluting coal mines.
Simply put, opening up new coal reserves for mining is not compatible with any global response to avoid catastrophe. We call on you to show true moral leadership.
As you know, thousands of school students have been protesting in our streets about this emergency. They have three demands. We are writing to urge you to agree to them:
- Stopping the proposed Adani coal mine
- Committing to no new coal or gas projects in Australia
- Moving to 100% renewable energy by the year 2030.
We understand this will be challenging. To start with, the people who live in those communities where employment would be affected clearly need good reliable jobs. Yet a courageous leader would come up with a jobs plan based on renewable energy instead of coal, an industry with an uncertain future which is now threatening our very survival.
The Adani mine in Central and North Queensland is an excellent example. People there need new, reliable jobs. Yet serious investment in solar would yield far more jobs than the Adani mine would, as it is less automated. And rejecting new coal will also help to protect jobs that depend on the Great Barrier Reef. There are currently 60,000 people whose livelihood depends on the Reef.
We also know that the Adani mine would use huge volumes of scarce water from the underground aquifers including the Great Artesian Basin. Furthermore, it would add to the likelihood of droughts by fuelling climate disruption.
Despite the differences in our faith, we all regard addressing the climate emergency as our shared moral challenge. We stand together for our common home, the Earth.
Will you and your Government have the courage to agree to this simple threefold agenda? We pray that you will.
- Dr Deirdre Palmer, President, Uniting Church in Australia
- Bishop Phillip Huggins, President, National Council of Churches, Anglican Diocese of Melbourne
- Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed, The Grand Mufti of Australia
- Dr Rateb Jneid, President, Muslims Australia
(Australian Federation of Islamic Councils)
- Bishop Kate Prowd, Melbourne Anglian Diocese
- Emeritus Professor Desmond Cahill OAM, Chair, Religions for Peace Australia
- Mrs Cecilia Mitra, President, the Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils
- Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Australia
- Mr Charlie Hogg, National Coordinator, Brahma Kumaris Australia
- Dr Gawaine Powell Davies, President, Buddhist Council of NSW
- Imam Ahmed Abdo, Secretary, Council of Imams NSW
- Imam Hassan Elsetohy, President, Council of Imams NSW
- Sister Maria Lazzaro pbvm, Congregation Leader, Presentation Sisters Victoria
- Professor Mohamad Abdalla, Director, Centre for Islamic Thought and Education, University of South Australia
- Rabbi David Kunin, Chair, Moetzah of Australian, New Zealand and Asian Rabbis
- Reverend Dr Archdeacon John Chryssavgis, Greek Orthodox Theologian
- Uncle Pastor Tom Sloane, National Executive, Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress
- The Right Reverend Professor Stephen Pickard, Executive Director, Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture at Charles Sturt University
- Associate Professor Mehmet Ozalp, Director, Islamic Sciences Research Academy (ISRA)
- Sister Anne Lane, Society President, Presentation Society of Australia & Papua New Guinea
- Sister Clare Nolan rsc, Congregational Leader, Congregation of the Sisters of Charity
- Sister Eveline Crotty RSM, Institute Leader, Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Australia & Papua New Guinea
- Sister Wendy Hildebrand ibvm, Loreto Australia and South East Asia Province Leader, Loreto Sisters
- Sister Cath Lacey, Congregational Leader, Marist Sisters in Asia-Pacific
- Sister Libby Rogerson ivbm, Loreto Australia
- The Very Reverend Dr Peter Catt, Dean, St John’s Cathedral, Anglican Church of Australia
- The Very Reverend Dr Shenouda Mansour, Coptic Orthodox Church
- Rabbi Jeffrey B Kamins OAM
- Rabbi Fred Morgan AM, Emeritus Senior Rabbi, Temple Beth Israel, Melbourne Union for Progressive Judaism in Australia
- Reverend James Houston OAM, All Saints’ Greensborough
- Aunty Ceane Towers, Director, One Mob Greater Lithgow Area
- Darren Cronshaw, Head of Research and Professor of Missional Leadership, Australian College of Ministries
- Patricia McAuliffe, Buddhists for the Environment WA
- Associate Professor Katharine Massam, Pilgrim Theological College
- Ajahn Sujato Bikkhu
- Peter Abrehart, Chairperson, Melbourne Unitarian Peace Memorial Church
- Father Peter Maher, Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney
- Father Rod Bower, Gosford Anglican church
- Reverend Peter Moore, Chair, Angligreen
- Reverend Harry Kerr, Convenor, Pax Christi Victoria
- Imam Afroz Ali, Managing Director, Transformative Living
- Ms Philippa Rowland, President, Multi-Faith Association of South Australia
- Ms Thea Ormerod, President, Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC)
- Professor John Williams, Co-Chair of Canberra Region Presbytery and Honorary Professor Crawford School of Public Policy (Australian National University), Uniting Church
- Professor Neil Ormerod, Executive Officer (Research Analytics), Sydney College of Divinity
- Rabbi Gersh Lazarow, Senior Rabbi, Temple Beth Israel, St Kilda, Melbourne
- Rabbi Nicole Roberts, Senior Rabbi, North Shore Temple Emanuel
- Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black, Environmental Advisor, Council of Progressive Rabbis
- Reverend Andrew Woff, Pastor, St Kilda Elsternwick Baptist Church
- Reverend Ian Smith, Executive Officer, Victorian Council of Churches
- Reverend Jarrod McKenna, Teaching Pastor, Cornerstone Church, Perth
- Reverend Stacey Aslangul, Co-Pastor, St Kilda/Elsternwick Baptist Church
- Reverend Associate Professor Geoff Thompson, Co-ordinator of Studies: Systematic Theology, Pilgrim Theological College
- Reverend Dr Charles Rue, Missionary Society of St Columban
- Reverend Dr Clive Pearson, Uniting Church in Australia
- Reverend Dr Denis Edwards Professorial Fellow, Australian Catholic University
- Reverend Dr Jason John, Uniting Church in Australia
- Reverend Dr John Squires, Intentional Interim Minister, Queanbeyan Uniting Church
- Reverend Dr Lorraine J Parkinson, Uniting Church in Australia
- Reverend Dr Margaret Mayman, Minister, Pitt Street Uniting Church
- Reverend Dr Monica Jyotsna Melanchthon, Co-ordinator of Studies – Old Testament, Pilgrim Theological College
- Reverend Dr Neil Millar, Minister, Uniting Church in Australia
- Reverend Dr Robert Stringer, Retired Minister, Uniting Church in Australia
- Reverend Dr Orm Rush, Associate Professor, Institute for Religion & Critical Inquiry, Faculty of Theology and Philosophy, Australian Catholic University
- Reverend Dr Patrick McInerney, Columban Centre for Muslim-Christian Relations
- Reverend Dr Paul Chalson, Minister, Queanbeyan Uniting Church
- Reverend Dr Rod Pattenden, Minister, Adamstown Uniting Church
- Reverend Dr Seforosa Carroll, Uniting Church
- Shiekh Dr Daud Batchelor, Brisbane Muslim Fellowship
- Sister Dr Elaine Wainwright, Professor Emeritus University of Auckland, The Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Australia & Papua New Guinea
- Sister Mary Tinney, Sisters of Mercy, Earth Link
- Sister Jan Barnett, Josephite Justice Coordinator, Sisters of St Joseph
- Uncle Pastor Ray Minniecon, Resource Worker, Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress
- Pastor Jeff McKinnon, Pastor, City Baptist Church Launceston and Convenor of Christian Climate Action Launceston
- Pastor Julian Holdsworth, Baptist Pastor, dchurched.com
- Philippa Wetherell, Priest, Anglican Diocese of Melbourne
- Renee Hills, Brisbane Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
- Aunty Rose Togiab Elu, Anglican and Torres Strait Islander
- Brother Lawrence McCane, Marist Brothers
- Cantor George Mordecai
- Dharmacari Akashamani, Triratna Buddhist Order
- Dharmacari Arthacarya, Triratna Buddhist Order
- Dharmacari Karunamitra, Triratna Buddhist Order
- Dharmacari Manjusiddha, Triratna Buddhist Order
- Dharmacari Moksavajra, Triratna Buddhist Order
- Dharmacari Nagadeva, Triratna Buddhist Order
- Dharmacari Ratnadaka, Triratna Buddhist Order
- Dharmacari Saddhavijaya, Triratna Buddhist Order
- Dharmacari Sanghamati, Triratna Buddhist Order
- Dharmacari Tejopala, Triratna Buddhist Order
- Dharmacarini Carunetra, Triratna Buddhist Order
- Dharmacarini Dhiracharita, Triratna Buddhist Order
- Dharmacarini Gambhiraja, Triratna Buddhist Order
- Dharmacarini Khemayogini, Triratna Buddhist Order
- Dharmacarini Maitripala, Triratna Buddhist Order
- Dharmacarini Rijumayi, Triratna Buddhist Order
- Dharmacarini Samacitta, Triratna Buddhist Order
- Dharmacarini Shantidevi, Triratna Buddhist Order
- Dharmacarini Sudaya, Triratna Buddhist Order
- Dharmacarini Vimuttinandi, Triratna Buddhist Order
- Dharmacarini Viryaja, Triratna Buddhist Order
- Dr Byron Smith, Assistant Pastor, St George’s Anglican Church, Paddington
- Father Andrew Bullen, Society of Jesus, Parish Priest of the Catholic Parish of Our Lady of the Way
- Father Arsenio Tuazon, Parish Priest, St Brigid’s Catholic Church, Healesville
- Father Neil Forgie, Anglican priest, Cairns
- Father Roger Sharr, Retired Priest, Anglican Diocese of Newcastle
- Father Stewart Taplin, Retired Priest, Anglican Diocese of Melbourne
- Mr John Freesmith, Unitarian Church of South Australia
- Rabbi Adi Cohen, Temple David
- Rabbi Allison Conyer, Etz Chayim Synagogue, Bentleigh
- Rabbi Gary J Robuck
- Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio
- Rabbi Rafael Kaiserblueth
- Rabbi Shamir Kaplan, Beit Aharon Congregation, Mount Scopus Memorial College
- Rabbi Shoshana Kaminsky, Beit Shalom Synagogue, Hackney SA
- Rabbi Yaron C Gottlieb
- Reverend Alex Sangster, Minister, Uniting Church in Australia
- Reverend Alimoni Taumoepeau, Minister, Strathfield-Homebush Uniting Church
- Reverend Cameron McAdam, Minister, The Village Uniting Church, Mount Eliza
- Reverend David Moore, Priest in Charge, Parish of Christ Church Kensington
- Reverend Elizabeth Raine, Minister, Tuggeranong Uniting Church
- Reverend Graeme Harrison, Uniting Church Minister, Living Faith Church
- Reverend Heather Hon, Minister of the Word, Uniting Church Koonung Heights
- Reverend J M Wright, Minister-in-Association, Cheltenham-Mentone Uniting Church
- Reverend Jennifer Burns, Minister, Merewether Uniting Church
- Reverend Jenny Trewhella, Minister, St Andrews Uniting Church Bacchus Marsh
- Reverend Joan Fisher, Minister, Uniting Church Shepparton
- Reverend John Buchanan, Senior Minister, St Peter’s Presbyterian Church
- Reverend Kathleen Baldini, Retired Minister, Uniting Church in Australia
- Reverend Kathryn Stoel-Cousineau, Minister, Leopold Uniting Church
- Reverend Miriam Nyrene, Honorary Deacon tssf, Boonah-Harrisville Anglican Parish
- Reverend Myung Hwa Park, Uniting Church in Australia
- Reverend Paulo Kwajakwan, Minister, Mount Martha Uniting Church
- Reverend Rhonda Kissick, Uniting Church in Australia
- Reverend Rob MacPherson, Minister, Unitarian Church of South Australia
- Reverend Sue Wilton, Priest in Charge, St Andrew’s Anglican Church
- Reverend Tim Angus, Hampton Uniting Church
- Reverend Tim Jensen, Minister, North Belconnen Uniting Church
- Sister Susan Connelly, Sister of St. Joseph
- Sister Ann-Maree Bernie RSM, Sisters of MercySister Claudette Cusack RSM, Sisters of Mercy
- Sister Elizabeth Young RSM, Sisters of Mercy
- Sister Kate Mannes RSM, Sisters of Mercy
- Sister Majella Tracey, Franciscan Missionary of Mary
- Sister Margaret Abbott RSM, Sisters of Mercy
- Sister Margaret McGrath RSM, Sisters of Mercy
- Sister Marie Britza RSM, Sisters of Mercy
- Sister Maureen Howley RSM, Sisters of Mercy
- Sister Naomi Smith RSJ, Sisters of St Joseph
- Sister Patricia Powell RSM, Sisters of Mercy
- Sister Veronica Lawson RSM, Sisters of Mercy
- Sister Wendy Flannery RSM, Sisters of Mercy
- Sister Barbara Daniel, Presentation Congregation of Victoria
For interviews, contact Vaidehi Shah – 0452 290 082.
Notes to editors:
- The letter and the list of signatories is online at https://www.arrcc.org.au/no_faith_in_coal.
- Faith leaders have also launched a #NoFaithInCoal social media campaign.
- Images from the open letter launch are available here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmEtK1Dv
- Videos will be available here: https://bit.ly/2N856w2