Heads of churches urge PM to take ambitious targets to climate summit

Leaders of several Australian denominations have added their voices to those calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to secure a deal to take a strong emissions reduction target to the upcoming United Nations climate summit (COP26) in Glasgow.

Australia’s Salvation Army, Baptists, Churches of Christ, Anglican Church, Uniting Church, Chinese Methodist Church, Congregational Federation, Armenian Apostolic Church, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and the Pacific Conference of Churches, along with the National Council of Churches, were all represented by the letter’s signatories.

“We write to you as people of faith who believe the Earth, our common home, is a precious gift created by God, that all life is interdependent, and that we have a responsibility to care for all people and all creation,” the letter reads.

“Human activity is contributing to changing our climate and the consequences are already dire. Many of our churches are located at the front lines of climate change impacts and are sounding the alarm for the wellbeing of the communities they serve.”

The letter goes on to state that “there is widespread scientific consensus that this situation and the resulting human suffering will only become catastrophically worse unless we change direction” and, therefore, “climate change is a moral imperative” requiring  “urgent action in partnership with the international community and alongside our Pacific family.”

“We believe Australia can be a leader and champion of ambitious climate action and should pursue a path that gives the greatest hope for the future of God’s creation,” it says.

The letter urges the Australian government to:

  • Scale up Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction target to at least 50 per cent and ambitiously aim for 74 per cent to help limit global temperature rise to less than 1.5 C, and pledge to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 in line with most developed nations;
  • Develop a national climate policy and plan for a just, equitable and rapid transition to a low-carbon economy that drives down greenhouse gas pollution;
  • Secure a just and sustainable transition for communities currently dependent on carbon-intensive industries for employment, and investment in renewable energy;
  • Pursue policies that support people, nations and ecosystems that are most vulnerable to climate change, including measures to strengthen the resilience of communities and support people and the services they rely on to adapt to the effects of climate change.

The letter was coordinated by the National Council of Churches in Australia, an ecumenical organisation bringing together several of Australia’s Christian churches.

The letter concluded by saying: “We offer this letter with an awareness of our own responsibilities to address climate change. Every member and part of society has a role to play, but a stronger and more ambitious climate agenda from the Australian government is critical to address the enormous challenge that lies before us. We believe Australia is ready.”

The letter was signed by:
Bishop Philip Huggins, President, National Council of Church in Australia
The Most Reverend Geoffrey Smith, Primate, Anglican Church of Australia
Rev. Mark Wilson, National Ministries Director, Australian Baptist Ministries< Rev. Sharon Hollis, President, Uniting Church in Australia Rev. Mark Kickett, Interim National Chair, Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC) Dr. Rob Nyhuis, Chair, Churches of Christ in Australia Rev. James Bhagwan, General Secretary, Pacific Conference of Churches Commissioners Janine & Robert Donaldson, The Salvation Army Ann Zubrick, Presiding Clerk, The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Australia & New Zealand Bishop Albert Wong, Chinese Methodist Church in Australia Keith Lyons, General Secretary, The Congregational Federation of Australia and New Zealand Archbishop Haigazoun Najarian, Primate, Armenian Apostolic Church of Australia and New Zealand