ACT: Faith, Science and Medical leaders in united call for Climate action in Parliament

Diverse faith and community leaders, climate scientists and doctors joined forces in the heart of Parliament House Canberra to provide an urgent climate briefing to politicians.

The Human Face of Climate Change’ event, organised by the Multifaith Association of SA and co-sponsored by the nonpartisan Parliamentary Friends of Multiculturalism and Religions for Peace Australia, was held on the last sitting day before global UN climate talks begin today at COP24 in Katowice, Poland. 

It made a unified call for urgent climate action to address risk from climate change.

“People of faith in Australia feel our government needs to urgently mount an ethical response to threats posed to vulnerable communities from escalating climate impacts right across our region of Oceania” said Philippa Rowland, President of Multifaith SA.

“Faith leaders are making personal commitments to lifestyle changes in transport, energy use and diet – areas with a high impact on climate change. Yet it remains crucial that our elected representatives commit to rapid cuts to Australia’s highest per capita emissions in the world, and a rapid transition to a low carbon economy and renewable energy,” she said.

Multifaith SA teamed up with Clean Energy For Eternity (CEFE) from Bega to organise a Human Sign saying NOW on Parliament House lawns. This is part of a wider mission to spell out “MAKE THE SWITCH NOW 100% RENEWABLES….IMAGINE”, by people standing shoulder to shoulder in formation and solidarity on climate action.

“We send an unequivocal message to politicians that everyday Australians – the people most affected by climate change – are doing more than their fair share to bring down emissions and fight climate change,” said CEFE president Matthew Nott.

“Our elected officials must act right now to make the transition away from fossil fuels to a 100 per cent renewable Australia, or get out of the way,” he said.

Quotes from Faith Leaders and Keynote Speakers:

Anglican: Rev Pamela Phillips, Anglican priest of the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn, member of the Diocesan Public Issues Commission
There is so much to love about the world. The sacred writings all talk about care for Creation and justice to the poor. We are called to be caretakers of God’s creation, to love what God has made and to share God’s gift of the Earth’s riches with all God’s creatures. Yet we are exploiting those riches for short term profits while endangering life itself for the poor and for future generations. “

Catholic: Sr Wendy Flannery, Institute of Sisters of Mercy of PNG and Australia
Our Popes have been outspoken about our need to take care for Creation since 1971, so this is not new, but we have taken a long time to be heard. Pope Francis has called on us to heed the cry of the Earth and the cry of the Poor, recognising the plight of vulnerable communities acrosss the world depend on us tackling these aspects together. People shoud consider endorsing the Hague Principles that have just been released that combine the Declaration on Human Rights with the Rights of Nature. To quote Gerard Manly Hopkins: “Our World is Charged with the grandeur of God”

Christian Benedictus Contemplative Church: Rev Dr Sarah Bachelard
Historically, when our life or way of life has been threatened, there has been someone else to blame, some ‘enemy’ against whom we can unite to mobilise action. The threat posed by climate change is different, because the ‘enemy’ is us. And this means that mobilising for climate action requires us to unite, not around hatred of some defined ‘other’ but around our love of the world and our willingness to share its life.

Brahma Kumaris: Robyn Horton
“The Brahma Kumaris believe the power of consciousness and the power of thought influences everything happening in the world around us, so when our thoughts are peaceful and free from conflict then we create a world in which there can be peace and harmony in relationship with others as well as nature.To bring stability, resilience and compassionate action on a global scale, we believe a widespread capacity for silent reflection and meditation is essential. Such an ‘inside-out’ approach, applied by large communities, can be the key to the paradigm shift that allows all stakeholders to make choices benefiting the planet and its future.”

Muslim: Sadarud Dean Sahu Khan, representing Canberra’s Muslim Community
Excessive pollution from fossil fuels threatens to destroy the gifts bestowed on us by God. Our attitudes to these gifts has been short-sighted and we have abused them.

Sikh: Amardeep Singh, President Federation of Indian Associations of ACT, and representative of the Canberra Sikh Association
The Sikh scripture declares that the purpose of human beings is to achieve a blissful state and be in harmony with the earth and all creation. It seems, however, that humans have drifted away from that ideal. The earth is today saturated with problems

Every minute the Creator is adding numberless beings in His creation. The air, water, fire, moons and earths are jewels of His creation. The world continuously is engaging itself in the earthly wealth and relations, and without a lovable connection with the Creator and His creation the life goes to waste. – (Guru Granth Sahib, page 465)

Tibetan Buddhist Society of Canberra: Jaqueline Forbes
We urgently need to overhaul our outdated, greedy, irrational, short-sighted and self-serving business, financial, legal and political models and work together with wisdom, compassion and intelligence, in accordance with the needs of the entire, complex natural system on which we all rely. In short, we need to become logical and compassionate big-picture thinkers.

Director, Climate Change Institute ANU: Professor Mark Howden
“Every half degree matters. Every year matters. Every choice matters.”

The science is unequivocal – we must deploy every measure within our reach to address the escalating impacts of climate change if we are to bring down emissions in time to secure a safe climate future. We need to ensure that people actually understand the implications of the IPCC Report on Global Warming of 1.5oC and take action if we want to keep climate change within safe limits and reduce extreme weather events, heat-related morbidity and food shortages.

“Every half a degree matters, with unwanted climate change impacts. The Carbon budget for a two thirds chance to stay below 1.5C will be gone in 10 to 14 years. So every year matters. Many options are laid out in the report with differing implications. So every choice matters.”

Pacific Islands Council of Queensland: Stella Miria-Robinson, President
“For many Pacific communities climate change weaves a sense of uncertainty and insecurity into many aspects of everyday life. Whole communities have already had to face the challenge of moving to a safer location and adapting to the lifestyle changes involved. For nations composed entirely of atolls, like Kiribati and Tuvalu, new migration pathways have to be on the drawing board.”

Doctors for the Environment Australia: Dr Ingo Weber, Campaign Director for “No Time For Games” the Impact of Climate Change on Children
Climate change is already responsible for an estimated 250,000 – 400,000 deaths per year – 88% are children dying in the developing world, from malnutrition, diarrhoea and dehydration, and malaria, dengue ferver and other infectious diseases. Australia is one of the most climate vulnerable countries of the OECD (HSBC Investor Report 2018: Fragile Planet) due to increased exposure to heat, droughts, fires, floods and storms. The duration, frequency and intensity of extreme heat events are projected to continue increasing across large parts of Australia. Rates of emergency department presentations increase 6- to 25-fold during heat-waves for fever, gastroenteritis, dehydration, asthma, and other childhood illnesses

Over the last 50 years, Australia has seen almost five-fold increase in the frequency of extreme temperatures, with the number of days over 35ºC in Australia predicted to increase 5–20 fold across Australia by 2100, while the number of reported weather related natural disasters has tripled since 1960, impacting 175 million children/year.

Bega Valley Shire: Jo Dodds – Resident of Tathra
The fires that ripped through Tathra in March this year destroyed 69 houses, damaged many more and irrevocably changed our seaside village on the far south coast of New South Wales. They also changed lives, as many people lost everything. Our governments must take rapid action on climate change, or be culpable as their denial of the need to swiftly address the threat of climate change means many other communities across Australia may face the same suffering. Regional communities across Australia deserve the support and active participation of all elected representatives in this common challenge.

Photo left to right:
Philippa Rowland (Multifaith Association South Australia)
Jo Dodds (Tathra resident, Bega Valley Shire Council
Dean Sahu Khan (Muslim Community of Canberra),
Jacqueline Forbes (Tibetan Buddhist Society of Canberra)
Prof. Mark Howden Director Climate Change Institute ANU,
Rev. Pamela Phillips Anglican Diocese of Canberra & Goulburn – at microphone
Rev Dr Sarah Bachelard, Contemplative Benedictine Church
Dr Ingo Weber, Campaign Director “No Time for Games” Doctors for the Environment Australia
Amardeep Singh (Sikh Community Leader),
Venerable Thich Quang Ba – Abbot & Founder, Sakyamuni Buddhist Centre, Van Hanh Monastery.
NB Absent in photo. present in APH:
Sri Kantilal Jinna OAM, Vice-President Hindu Council of Australia (statement)
Stella Miria-Robinson (President, Pacific Islands Council of Queensland)
Sr Wendy Flannery, Institute of Mercy Sisters of PNG and Australia, Catholic
Robyn Horton, Brahma Kumari