Faith communities unite on climate change

Representatives of organisations from 16 Australian faith communities will today launch a statement of common belief on climate change in what is described as a world first show of interfaith unity on the issue.

The document, "Common Belief: Australia's faith communities on climate change", published by the Climate Institute of Australia, is to be launched in Sydney today by Anglican bishop of Canberra and Goulburn, Bishop George Browning.

Joining Anglicans, the Salvation Army, Lutherans, Baptists, Catholics and the Uniting Church in arguing for immediate action on climate change are Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jews.

The document says that addressing the issue of climate change is a moral imperative and inaction by Australians cannot be justified, according to a statement released by the Climate Institute.

Explaining Catholic involvement in the project, Columban Fr Charles Rue of Catholic Earthcare said that "the right to a safe ecological environment is a universal human right".

"Profit is a limited goal and needs to be linked to socially and environmentally responsible ethical investment," Fr Rue said in a statement.

"The right to a safe ecological environment is a universal human right… Warfare has multiple negative environmental impacts and eats up much of the world's financial resources. Therefore, we urge the choice of dialogue and cooperation."

The Catholic submission calls on all Australians to do their part, adding that at the national level "strengthening biodiversity compliance and ratifying the Kyoto Protocol seem but minimal" actions, the Age says.

"The response has been unequivocal," said Climate Institute founder Mark Wootton.

"Australia's faith communities demand a firm government response to climate change which protects our children's future and prevents further harm to the world's poorest people who are already living with the impacts of climate change."

Patrick Dodson of the Lingiari Foundation added that "the destruction of the planet has begun through our over-exploitation of our lands and seas".

However, "these are not times for blame nor accusation," Mr Dodson said. "There is a task ahead of all onus to address the outcomes of our avarice and sloth."

Last month Brisbane Archbishop John Bathersby told the Brisbane Walk Against Warming rally that policy-makers, like the public, must acknowledge their mistakes when it comes to the environment.

He also said: "I don't think we can be Christian unless we are ecologically converted."

Religious leaders find common belief (The Age, 4/12/06)
A Common Belief: Australia's Religions United on Climate (Media Release, 5/12/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Earthcare
Climate Institute Australia

Churches challenge rich countries on greenhouses gases (CathNews, 27/11/06)
Climate makes "ecological conversion" urgent, Vatican says (CathNews, 27/10/06)
Climate change on our doorstep, says Caritas (CathNews, 10/10/06)
Indigenous Aussies among first climate change victims (CathNews, 4/10/06)
Oceania bishops voice concern on climate change , AIDS (15/8/06)
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5 Dec 2006