Christians inspire Aussie politicians to wear 'climate scarves' to Parliament

Christian social justice movement Common Grace has inspired several of Australia’s Federal MPs and Senators to wear climate scarves during question time in federal parliament today as a visual show of support for urgent climate action.

The handknitted scarves illustrate 101 years of climate data (1919-2019) in vivid coloured stripes. They were made and gifted to MPs from members of Common Grace in March.

Linda Burney (Member for Barton), Anne Aly (Member for Cowan), Chris Bowen (Member for McMahon), Senator Peter Whish-Wilson (TAS), and Matt Thistlethwaite MP (Member for Kingsford Smith) were among the representatives who took up the challenge, donning the bright scarves.

Today is the last joint sitting date in parliament before the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, COP26. It comes as the federal government finalises its negotiations to set a net-zero emissions target by 2050.

“These scarves have been painstakingly handmade, they are beautiful, but haunting, as they tell the story of our warming world,” Common Grace CEO Brooke Prentis explains.

Prentis sees the upcoming COP26 as the most important climate conference since Paris in 2015 (COP21). Common Grace hopes politicians wearing the scarves will send “a gracious message of support to our nation’s leaders for Australia to attend in a spirit of leadership, ready to commit to bold, courageous and just action on climate change.”

Senator Sue Lines (WA), Susan Templeman (Member for Macquarie), Kristy McBain (Member for Eden-Monaro), Maria Vamvakinou (Member for Calwell), Dr Mike Freelander (Member for Macarthur),  Andrew Leigh (Member for Fenner), Rebekha Sharkie (Member for Mayo), Terri Butler (Member for Griffith), Senator Malarndirri McCarthy (NT), Senator Marielle Smith (SA), Tony Zappia (Member for Makin), Josh Burns (Member for Macnamara), Milton Dick (Member for Oxley) and Andrew Laming (Member for Bowen) all posted photographs of them wearing the scarves to social media.

Peta Murphy MP, federal Member for Dunkley, posted a video to Facebook wearing her scarf, which she said was made by Common Grace and was a gift from the Mount Elza Uniting Church. Murphy commended ‘Ruth’ who had presented the scarf to her, saying she was “so proud of her for standing up for what she believed in.”

“And here I am, as I promised, standing up for you,” the MP said.

Fiona Phillips, the Member for Gilmore, also posted a video supporting the initiative to Facebook.

Common Grace CEO Prentis – a well-known Aboriginal Christian leader – said decision-makers needed to listen to people, especially Aboriginal peoples, Torres Strait Islander peoples, along with Australia’s neighbours, the peoples of the Pacific Island nations, on the issue of climate change.

“We want to inspire leaders across the political spectrum to listen to and be led by those most impacted by our warming world,” she said.

“Australia’s current pledges and ambitions lag well behind our allies and peers. COP26 is a chance for us to show solidarity with vulnerable peoples and neighbours and pledge to go further in emissions reduction and climate financing.

“It’s also a chance for us to set our economy on the path to sustainable recovery, clean jobs and the protection of our peoples and country.”

The climate scarf pattern is based on the #ShowYourStripes graph created by UK climate scientist Professor Ed Hawkins, and the idea was inspired by a five-metre climate scarf knitted by members of a UK Women’s Institute. Aussie “eco theologian” Mick Pope supplied the climate data.