Listen: Negaya Chorley of Caritas chats to Clare Bruce. Above: Religious representatives gather on the lawn of Parliament House.
Australians of different faiths have crossed religious lines to gather at Parliament House, armed with 25,000 signatures on a petition—calling for action on climate change.
People from the Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist and Quaker communities spent last six months collecting old-fashioned, pen-and-paper signatures, urging the government to take a bipartisan approach to the issue.
They then met on the lawns of Parliament House on Wednesday (September 6) to show that the problem of climate change should unite, not divide us.
Negaya Chorley, head of Advocacy at Caritas, said the issue was a matter of justice, both for the poor, and for future generations.
“The people who are the least responsible for climate change, are being the most impacted.”
“Climate change is effecting the poorest communities throughout the world, and throughout the teachings of the different religions, in the Bible, the Q’uran, there’s a strong emphasis on stewardship, on creation, on conservation,” she said.
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“The people who are the least responsible for climate change, people in developing countries who have the lowest rates of carbon emissions, are being the most directly impacted,” she said. “It’s [also about] intergenerational justice and equity. We’re making decisions now that will make a huge impact on our children and grandchildren.”
A World in Distress
The timing of the petition is no accident. With 40 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa threatened by drought, 20 million people in South East Asia affected by flooding, and hurricane damage devastating Central America, campaign leaders want the government to stop playing party politics over clean energy targets.
“We want to send a strong signal to our politicians that this isn’t a peripheral issue, it’s not just an issue for the Greens or environmental agencies,” said Negaya. “This is an issue that needs to unite us. People of faith now represent 60 per cent of the population, and people right across different faiths are saying ‘this is a central challenge that needs to bring us together’.
“There’s extreme weather events going on right throughout the world, and unpredictable weather patterns. In Africa 70 percent of the population are farmers, and unpredictable weather wreaks havoc on their ability to bring in a sustainable livelihood.”
Pope Francis, who is famously passionate about the environment, this week condemned climate change deniers—by quoting a Bible verse about man’s ‘stupidity’.
“Pope Francis has been an extraordinary and courageous leader on this issue,” Negaya said, “and led the way for other faiths to come forward and speak up on the issue. He’s not scared to go where other people are scared to go to, naming the irresponsibility of people. There’s so much at stake.”