Archived News Item

Faith leaders call for greenhouse pollution targets

In the October 25 edition of Mercy Matters, Sisters of Mercy, their colleagues and friends were encouraged to look at information supplied by various Christian organisations to assist in their preparation for the Federal election. In the area of climate change, religious leaders from various faiths are urging the community to adopt the scientifically recommended targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a major cause of human-induced climate change. Read on for the text of their statement.

Thirteen Australian faith leaders, including Anglican Bishop George Browning, Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence from the executive council of Australian Jewry and Brother Ikebal Patel (President of Australian Federation of Islamic Councils) have called for targets to reduce greenhouse pollution by between 60-90% by 2050 and a clean energy target of 25% by 2020.

The Interfaith Common Call to Action has been facilitated by the Climate Institute and builds on Common Belief which was released late last year and included statements by a wide range of Australian faith leaders about climate change and a shared belief that there is a moral obligation to care for the earth.

“The scientific and economic arguments for action to stop the worst impacts of climate change are very clear, but the most compelling argument is that which is put by these faith leaders – we have a moral and ethical responsibility to care for the earth and leave our children and their children a healthy planet,” said Climate Institute Chief Executive, John Connor.

“This Australian Interfaith call for action reflects an international movement by faiths calling for urgent action on climate change and doing what they can within faith communities to reduce carbon emissions. For example, the Vatican, under Pope Benedict XVI, has committed to becoming carbon neutral and plans to cover its roofs with solar panels,” said Mr O’Connor.

“All the indications are that the poor of the world will suffer the most, people in Africa, people in Bangladesh, people in the Pacific. It’s a moral issue because we have a choice. I do not think that at the next election, any Australian can morally vote for a government that does not have a viable climate policy,” said Bishop George Browning.

“Particularly those of us who live in a fairly wealthy and technologically advanced environment have choices which poorer people don’t have, and we should exercise those choices for the good of all.”

The Interfaith Common Call to Action calls on the Australian Government to adopt policies without delay that will:

  • Ensure Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions peak and begin to decline in the next five years, set a long term reduction target of at least 60-90% below 1990 levels by 2050 and a pathway of strong interim targets to meet that long term target.
  • Ensure all new electricity generation comes from clean energy and legislate a clean or renewable energy target of 25% by 2020.
  • Set world’s best energy performance standards and establish a priority package of efficiency measures to cut energy waste and deliver all cost effective energy savings, particularly for low income households.
  • Strengthen, broaden and deepen current greenhouse international agreements, help neighbouring countries make the switch to clean energy and prepare for climate change, and lead the world in a response that avoids dangerous climate change of global warming more than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

One of the potential saving graces of climate change is that it unites different faiths in their shared moral responsibility to care for creation. The signatories of the declaration came from a diverse range of religious communities. View the signed version of the Interfaith Call to Action here.

Source: The Climate Institute

Several groups have prepared report cards on the political parties and their policies on climate change. Follow the links below to clarify whose policies you might want to support.

Australian Conservation Foundation

PolMin: Australian Political Ministry Network Ltd

This is the last bulletin that Institute’s Eco-Justice Committee will be posting before the Federal election on November 24. Please give us some feedback on how helpful you have found these two years of reflection on climate change. Send it to us at

From: Specific Issues Committee, Eco-Justice (Sisters Margaret Abbott, Mary Dennett, Patricia Powell and Mary Tinney). The Committee warmly invites your response to the article or the issue.
Contact: Carmel Heagerty RSM, Institute Justice Co-ordinator