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Religious responses to climate change

Manjit Singh Gilhotra from the Canberra Sikh Association, Bhante Sujato from the Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils, Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins from the Emanuel Synagogue Sydney, Bishop George Browning from the Anglican Church and Kanti Jinna, vice chairman of the Hindu Council of Australia at Parliament House, Canberra, 2 June 2011. Picture: Kym Smith Source: The Daily Telegraph

Five years ago the Climate Institute released a landmark publication, Common Belief, in which Australia’s faith communities shared their views on environmental responsibility and how these related to action on climate change.

There were contributions from Anglican, Baha’i, Baptist, Buddhist, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Hindu, Jewish, Lutheran, Muslim, Salvation Army, Sikh, Uniting Church, and other faith communities.

The diverse group shared an extraordinary common interest in ecological sustainability, and in their commitment to pursuing policy action on climate change. Even the Australian Christian Lobby, often unfairly criticised for a narrow political agenda, reflected this common belief in its contribution to the booklet, saying:

There is a strong scientific consensus that the climate is changing and that this change will have significant consequences: economic and social, national and international…

Within Australia, good stewardship demands that we mitigate the effects of drought and rising sea-levels on our water resources, our agricultural industry, our low-lying coastal cities and our biodiversity.

One of the ACL’s main concerns is that the consequences of climate change will be felt most heavily by those least able to bear it. Developing countries, which already struggle with the burdens of poverty, corruption, and natural disasters, are likely to bear the brunt of climate change. We will be looking to the Australian Government to contribute to global action in order to protect this class of people from the consequences of climate change.

That was five years ago, but the work continues. Representatives of Australia’s faith communities were in Canberra on Thursday, urging politicians to act responsibly to address climate change, and seeking justice for those who will be most affected.

I was there as a representative of Australian Baptists, whose 2006 resolution on climate change expresses a strong commitment to climate change action based on biblical principles.

Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, Sunday 5 June 2011. This is a slightly expanded version of my on-air comment.

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Rod Benson

Theologian, researcher, teacher, writer, foodie, husband, dad. Works at Moore Theological College.

1 reply

  1. It’s a shame that this hasn’t made it’s way into the CDP and Family First policy platforms. They range from ‘agnostic’ about climate change (CDP, no irony intended by them?) to basic unacceptance by Fielding and FF.

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