PEOPLE from various faiths around the world held symbolic actions to “sound the alarm” for the climate – including the Uniting Churches at Dromana and Rosebud.
The two churches rang their bells at 11am, Thursday 11 March, as part of a global multi-faith Day of Action in which about 100 faith communities called for more ambitious action on climate change.
The lead local organisation is the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, which is part of GreenFaith International.
The Day of Action centred on the “Sacred People, Sacred Earth” statement signed by religious leaders, including the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the senior Vatican spokesperson, Cardinal Turkson.
Australian signatories include the president of the National Council of Churches Bishop Philip Huggins, as well as senior Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, Hindu and Muslim leaders.
“When I was ministering in East Gippsland last summer, I saw what happens when the science of climate change is not heeded,” spokesperson the Rev Ian Ferguson said.
“In contrast, we’ve seen during this pandemic that good outcomes are achieved when scientific advice is followed but, when governments do the wrong thing, it’s the poor who are hurt the most.
“Climate scientists are urging the strongest action possible to mitigate climate and ecological change, hence GreenFaith International’s call for wealthy countries to reduce their emissions to net zero by 2030. Governments like Australia’s need to wake up out of their complacency.”
The Australian Religious Response to Climate Change is calling for higher emissions reduction targets to be submitted under the Paris Accord, in line with a net zero target by 2030. The organisation wants post-COVID recovery spending to be centred on low-carbon jobs, rather than fossil fuels, such as gas, and for finance to be provided to the Green Climate Fund for developing countries.
Bishop Huggins said: “We all need to be imaginative and generous together now to prevent a worsening climate emergency. Scott Morrison and our federal government has a crucial leadership role both in our nation and as good neighbours in the Asia-Pacific region.
“The transition to net zero requires that we make a bold Australian contribution to COP26, as is expected by the Paris Agreement. It means coordinating regional industry plans so that workers in fossil fuel industries can transition to durable and clean energy employment.”
Dromana Uniting’s Bronwyn Pryor said: “We are protesting for the climate and ecological devastation that is imminent in our near future.
“A protest at the 11th hour, we feel, is necessary for any action by governments to be effective in stopping it.
“People of faith don’t usually take action on such matters, but we feel it is time our voices were heard as well.
“We are digging out our old church bells from retirement and ringing them again, the sound of which has not been heard for many decades.
“The old bell at Dromana was not only heard as a call to worship on Sundays but was used by the local fire brigade in an emergency.”
Parishioner Helen Rowe said: “I worry about the kind of future my grandchildren will face when they’re adults. I also care about our farmers battling droughts, Pacific Islanders who are seeing their homes swamped by the sea, our wildlife, the Great Barrier Reef and all the places we love.
“It is irresponsible to say Australia is a small player. We’re the largest exporter of coal and gas and, per person, we have one of the highest carbon footprints.”