Media release

Australian religious leaders in call for ambitious climate action


People of all faiths urge governments to ratify landmark Paris Climate Change Agreement

The world’s religious leaders have united to call on governments to take urgent action on climate change.

Twenty senior Australian religous leaders have joined the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Pakistani grand imam Maulana Khabir Azad and more than 250 of their international counterparts to sign the Interfaith Climate Change Statement.

Australian signatories include the presidents of the Australian Hindu and Imams councils, the Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils and the National Council of Churches in Australia.

The interfaith statement says governments must urgently ratify the landmark Paris Climate Change Agreement and reduce emissions to stop global temperature rise. It urges the swift phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies and the acceleration of renewable energy investment to limit global temperature rise to no more than 1.5C above industrial levels.

The statement was handed to the UN General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft in New York early this morning Australian time, as government representatives, including Australia’s Environment Minister Greg Hunt, prepare to officially sign up to the Paris Climate Agreement.

Faith groups across the religious spectrum believe caring for Earth is a shared moral responsibility.

They say carbon dioxide emissions have to drop to net zero between 2045 and 2050 in order to limit warming and more money must be spent on adapting to climate change as well as covering the loss and damage it’s causing.

Catholic Earth Care Australia’s Philippa Rowland represented Australia at the handing over ceremony.

“It’s deeply encouraging to see all faiths calling for urgent action on climate change, given clear signs from the science and the environment itself,” Ms Rowland said.

“The current global coral bleaching event affecting the Great Barrier Reef is just one example of Australia’s vulnerability to global warming and the impacts are far worse for our Pacific neighbours.”

Photos of the ceremony in New York here:

A list of the leaders who have signed up to the Interfaith Climate Change Statement here:

Australian signatories include: 

Bishop George Browning

Inaugural convener of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network

“Science and Christianity are on the same page in urging human responsibility in the face of escalating climate change. Christianity has always urged care for the created order. Science points to the urgency. The clock is ticking. We cannot sit on our hands any longer. The responsibility belongs to everyone: politicians, business leaders, the investment industry, faith leaders, and ordinary citizens. Politics has for a long time dragged its feet. It needs to catch up and realise that the age of fossil fuels is over – renewable energy must be mandated for economic as well as environmental reasons.”

Dr Jake Mitra

President of the Federation of Buddhists Councils Australia

“The Buddha was born in the forest, awakened in a forest and passed away in a forest. He respected all forms of life and the sanctity of nature, and hence we should protect against the deforestation that is threatening to remove an important natural producer of oxygen and consumer of carbon dioxide. In addition to reducing the human carbon footprint, we should address human overpopulation and animal farming practices. The positive thing about this crisis is that it forces us to think of ourselves as one humanity. So let us work together out of kindness and respect for all beings.”

Thea Ormerod

President of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change

“In many places across this fragile planet of ours, global warming is no longer just a theory. It is destroying lives and livelihoods. The world desperately Australia to do its fair share of accelerating the shift to low-carbon technologies and of building resilience in vulnerable countries. The first step would be to ratify the Paris Agreement.”

Sister Elizabeth Delaney

General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in Australia

“Among all people there is a growing awareness of our need to care for our earth. All churches acknowledge that we can no longer simply look to the needs of the human family. The whole of creation is God’s gift. Increasingly, churches are recognising that we have a genuine mission to love and care for God’s creation  – this is an essential aspect of our Christian faith. As individuals and communities we can be challenged by the practical changes and implications of policy changes called for. Any lack of response condemns those who are among the most vulnerable in our world.”

International signatories include:

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

“I am really happy to see leaders, governments and the civil society arenow taking climate change and global warming seriously, and it is a hopeful sign. Taking care of this planet that is our only home is the responsibility of the whole of humanity, and therefore each of us as individuals has a responsibility to ensure that the world will be safe for future generations, for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I am hopeful that with a genuine sense of the oneness of humanity, all of us will do whatever we can to protect the environment.”

Archbishop of Port Moresby John Ribat

President of the Executive Committee of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania

“We are heartened by the growing international concern about climate change and global warming. Pope Francis in his recent encyclical Laudato Si’ (on Care for our Common Home) invites – indeed urges – the entire global human family to see our planet and its peoples as our universal home. The protection of the atmosphere and the oceans are powerful examples of the need for political representatives and leaders of nations to take responsibility for the wellbeing of peoples beyond their own particular shores or borders. In some cases, entire regions and nations are under threat from the indisputable fact of rising sea levels.