Diverse people of faith gathered on Thursday 13 October at St Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral in Parramatta meditating, praying and chanting for the protection of the earth’s climate highlighted in an open letter by 100 interfaith leaders to PM Anthony Albanese to take decisive action to combat climate change by stopping all new coal and gas projects and ending public subsidies to the fossil fuel sector.

The event was initiated with a melodious call to prayer, Azan by Ahmet Ozturk from the Islamic Sciences and Research Academy (ISRA). As well as attending the public services, some devotees spent the whole of last night together in meditation, prayer, chanting and in some cases fasting to show their depth of feeling about the issue.

Ahmet Ozturk preparing to call the Azan. Credit: Michael O'Farrell.

Ahmet Ozturk preparing to call the Azan. Photo: Michael O’Farrell

Everyday people of faith showed support for their message by attending multi-faith services for climate justice at cathedrals and other well-known places of worship across Australia. Services were also held in Fiji and Kiribati.

Reverend John Gilmore, the President of the National Council of Churches said, “This is about putting loving our neighbours into practice. The government needs to listen to our neighbours in the Pacific. This letter echoes what Pacific leaders said earlier this year at the Pacific Islands Forum: Australia needs to rule out new coal and gas and to stop subsidising those industries.”

Signatories to an open letter to Mr Albanese include the most senior leaders of the Anglican Church in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, the President of the Australian National Imams Council (ANIC), the Grand Mufti of Australia, the President of the Uniting Church as well as First Nations leaders and senior leaders of the Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu and Brahma Kumaris religions.

Their letter states: “Australia is a wealthy country that profits from exports that are causing the crisis. We hear the cries of anguish from those most vulnerable in the human family who are losing their lives, livelihoods and homes through climate-fuelled disasters.

“The current level of warming is not safe. This moment in history calls for an urgent, courageous, visionary response, especially from those in power.”

In their letter, the faith leaders furthermore called on the Prime Minister to restart contributions to the UN’s Green Climate Fund, fully respect First Nations peoples’ rights to protect Country, support for a  transition for coal and gas dependent communities, and endorsement of a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Treaty has already been endorsed by Pope Francis, the World Health Organisation, Vanuatu, and Tuvalu, among others.

The letter and the services were organised by the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change as part of a global faith campaign known as “Faiths 4 Climate Justice”. The campaign is taking place in over forty countries during the lead-up to the COP27 global climate summit in early November in Egypt, and advocates for the endorsement of a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.