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ACLRI calls on Govt to ratify Kyoto Protocol

The Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes (ACLRI) has written to Prime Minister John Howard urging him to take the moral path and ratify the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases.

In a statement, the Conference said humanity faces dire consequences unless efforts were made to reduce greenhouse gases.

"We believe very strongly that global warming is a moral issue," ACLRI justice committee chairman Sister Marlette Black told AAP. "In not moving ahead and taking an independent position apart from the US, the Howard government is ignoring the seriousness of the issue of global warming.

"It is refusing to take a leadership role as a developed nation in terms of accepting some limits to the generation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."

Australia is under pressure from European nations to ratify the protocol designed to curb greenhouse gas emissions, which are widely blamed for global warming.

Sr Marlette said Australia should ratify the Kyoto Protocol by 2002, work to reverse the US position and develop a long-term strategic approach to greenhouse gas emissions.

The government should also develop a sense of solidarity with the nations and people most likely to be on the losing end of climate change, she said.

"Unless we join globally with other developed countries to address a global issue, we are going to be on the edge of an abyss," she said.

"We want the Howard government to take an independent position apart from the United States, and actually work to reverse the US position."

Sr Marlette said the ACLRI first wrote to the prime minister on 26 June but had not received a reply.

Environmental lobby group Climate Action Network Australia supported the ACLRI's stance, saying religious leaders had realised that global warming was about social justice as well as the environment.