The Multifaith Network of the City of Port Phillip – joined by other faith-based organisations and interfaith networks – has written to the Prime Minister of Australia about the need to respond to climate change in a manner which ensures human flourishing for our future generations.
Dear Prime Minister,
We are very conscious that you have taken office at a time when there are many crises and major domestic problems for you and your government to confront, and that globally the most critical is the need to offset human-induced climate change.
You may know that our Multifaith Network comprises of faith leaders and representatives from major faith groups within the Municipality of Port Phillip, Victoria, and that it focuses on promoting interfaith dialogue, social justice and creating connections within the community.
Now, 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 and spiritual one. Port Phillip is already experiencing the impacts of climate change, including temperature increases (of between 1.2 and 1.4 degree since 1950), lower than average rainfall (a decrease of between 100 and 200 millimetres since 1950), more flooding, sea level rise (of between 0.08 to 0.20 metres above the 1986-2005 level) and a notable increase in the number of days over 35 degrees.1
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 both locally and around the world have made their views on this matter known. We believe any threat against human security should not be overlooked but to bring awareness and resolve these matters that the nation and faith groups should prioritise to engage and cooperate to resolve in joint effort to protect from threats against human security and spread the culture of peace and harmony in the community.
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 our school students both locally and around Australia, as well as around the world, have been protesting in the streets about this environmental emergency. Surely their voices have to be recognised and appreciated as they are our future.
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.
Coal mines, like 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.
We also stand united in supporting City of Port Phillip declaring a Climate Emergency on 18th of September 2019. Worldwide, 960 governments from jurisdictions spanning 18 countries have declared a Climate Emergency, accounting for over 212 million citizens.
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.
We pray you and your Government have the courage to meet that challenge.
City of Port Phillip Multifaith Network
Faith Communities Council of Victoria
Planetary Healing Artists
St Kilda Elsternwick Baptist Church
Buddhist Religious Instruction (bENGAGED)
Hindu Council of Australia HCA (Vic)
International Society for Krishna Consciousness ISKCON
The Catholic Parish of Sacred Heart & St Columba
Carmelite Parish of Port Melbourne and Middle Park
Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light
Anglican Parish of Christ Church St Kilda
St Kilda Uniting Church
Port Melbourne Uniting Church
Sisters of the Good Shepherd
St Kilda Muslim Community (Humanity Welfare Foundation)
Temple Beth Israel
Religions for Peace Australia
1 Climate Ready Victoria: Greater Melbourne November 2015, State of Victoria Department of Environment,Land, Water, and Planning.