The People’s Climate Assembly (PCA), co-hosted by multi-faith leaders from the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), gathered outside Parliament House in Canberra on 4 February, calling on the Australian government to take action on climate change. As a part of the peaceful protest, Anglican priest Fr. Rod Bower led an interfaith mourning ritual for victims of the widespread bushfires that have razed large areas of Australia. The ceremony of mourning was organized by the Canberra Interfaith Forum and the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture.
“A religious response to climate change is essential for a healthy spirituality. It’s an expression of our connection with God, with each other, and with the Earth,” Bower was quoted as saying. “Our responsibility to care for the Earth is something that is common to all the faiths.” (mnnews.today)
The PCA is a coalition of action groups working together to take demand real action from the Australian government in the face of global climate change. The PCA organized a five-day event from 2–6 February alongside more than 20 community organizations, including the ARRCC, gathering thousands of people to assemble on the first sitting day of parliament for 2020 on 4 February. They called for the federal government tell the truth and declare a climate emergency.
The ARRCC is a national multi-faith, member-based organization committed to taking action on climate change, bringing together representatives from all of the major faith traditions to work together. The ARRCC’s objectives are:
(1) To promote ethical, environmentally sustainable, healthy, and contented lifestyles which respect the Earth’s precious natural resources;
(2) To advocate, from a faith perspective, for public policies which contribute to climate justice. (ARRCC)
ARRCC secretary Gillian Reffell participated as a Buddhist on a panel of faith speakers along with Fr. Bower and Catholic Brigidine sister Jane Keogh, organized by the PCA on 3 February.
“With the wake-up call that has been the bushfire crisis, we ask that the government be guided by those experts who are offering pathways to a prosperous and sustainable future which does not depend on fossil fuels,” said Reffell. (mnnews.today)
“Australia is very vulnerable to global warming,” he added. “It would be in the interests of country people, our children, Australia’s Pacific neighbors, and the world if we finally begin to embrace the new, clean technologies of the future.” (mnnews.today)
Sr. Keogh spoke about the need to reach out to the unconvinced: “People are good at heart, but they don’t understand the facts,” she said at the gathering. “Right now, as long as they think that you do respect them, they might be more interested in talking about the issues. Talk about how the climate issue has affected you personally and what you’re doing about it. Then listen, be respectful.” (mnnews.today)
On 23 January, the ARRCC gathered more than 150 religious leaders from across Australia to issue an open letter to Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, calling on him to make addressing climate change his first priority.
“The climate situation is much more than a political or even a scientific issue. It is a profoundly moral one,” the letter stated. “Despite the differences in our faith, we all regard addressing the climate emergency as our shared moral challenge. We stand together for our common home, the Earth.” (St George & Sutherland Shire Leader)
Faithful speak out at People’s Climate Assembly after bushfires (mnnews.today)
Faith leaders push Scott Morrison to act on climate (St George & Sutherland Shire Leader)
Protesters surround parliament to demand climate action (green left)
Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC)