Australia

More than 100 religious groups are calling on Scott Morrison to act on climate change

Church bells will toll, Islamic calls to prayer will ring out and the Jewish Shofar horn will blare from faith buildings around Australia on Thursday as religious leaders join in a global call for stronger climate action.

The climate justice event, called ‘Sacred People, Sacred Earth’, will take place on Thursday morning and be marked by dozens of faith leaders around the country calling on the government to commit to reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Their actions will be part of a global call to action from faith leaders around the world. 

Leaders of Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and various Christian denominations will take part in the series of actions around the country, which will also include silent protests outside the offices of senior government figures.

Anglican Bishop Philip Huggins, President of the National Council of Churches in Australia, said leaders of all faiths were speaking with a common voice out of their shared value of compassion.

“God gives us the opportunity and responsibility to look after this beautiful planet and this beautiful creation. So out of my faith I want to make sure we look after this planet and make sure it’s available for the next generation and protect the biodiversity,” he told SBS News.

“It’s a matter of shared compassion. We have compassion for each other and compassion for biodiversity and species, from the koala to the coral reef, to ensure we get to net zero emissions hopefully by 2030, and we call on our Prime Minister to set the target and inspire our best.”

Rabbi Shoshana Kaminsky, spokesperson for the Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors, told SBS News the government needed to be doing more to tackle the issue of climate change.

She cited her faith as the inspiration for participating in Thursday’s action.

“I can only speak as a Jew, and in my tradition the very highest value is to save a life,” she said. “We are looking at here at the potential loss of millions and millions of people as a result of climate change.

“If I can help prevent some of those deaths, then I feel that it is really a religious call for me to do so.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously said Australia should get to net zero emissions “as soon as possible” and preferably by 2050, but has not moved to formally legislate the target.

All states and territories in Australia have a formal target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner.

Australia has been under international pressure to formally follow nations like the United Kingdom, Japan and the United States and formal adopt a net zero emissions target.

In February last year Mr Morrison said the government wouldn’t adopt a formal target until it knew the cost.

“Currently no one can tell me that going down that path won’t cost jobs, won’t put up your electricity prices, and won’t impact negatively on jobs in the economies of rural and regional Australia,” he said. And my government is absolutely committed to the jobs of rural and regional Australians.”

SBS News has approached the Prime Minister’s office and Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor for comment.

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