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Church leaders unite for climate action

28 November 2021

Church leaders unite for climate action

Australian faith leader unite for climate change. Photo KianWorthing Photography.

Words Simone Worthing 

Commissioners Janine and Robert Donaldson, leaders of The Salvation Army Australia, have joined church leaders from across Australia and the Pacific region in calling for the Australian Government to step up its part in global action addressing climate change (see statement below).

The leaders co-signed an open letter to the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, expressing shared concern over climate change and that Australia could be a leader and champion of more ambitious and innovative action before it is too late.  

In the lead-up to the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, the letter urges the Australian Government to scale up Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction target to at least 50 per cent and ambitiously aim for higher to help limit global temperature rise to less than 1.5°C. 

It also calls for “a just and sustainable transition for communities currently dependent on carbon-intensive industries” and policies that support people, nations, and ecosystems that are most vulnerable to climate change. 

Adaptation strategy 

As well as advocating for emissions reduction and stopping climate change, the Salvos are focused on an adaptation strategy. Environmental changes need to be adapted, and this plan will ensure that the costs involved – such as increasing housing and insurance costs, improved building standards, and environmental protections – are spread evenly across the community.   

“Governments have a role to play in assisting workers affected by industry transitions and providing information and modelling on the potential impacts for various groups within our society,” said Major Paul Hateley, Head of Government Relations for The Salvation Army Australia. “[So], we must ensure people living in increasingly risky areas who cannot afford to protect their homes or to retreat to a safer area, as well as people living in energy poverty or unsuitable housing who cannot meet increasing costs to maintain a healthy home environment, are provided for.”  

A letter to the Prime Minister

 Friday 15 October 2021 

The Hon. Scott Morrison, MP Prime Minister of Australia  

Cc: Hon Barnaby Joyce MP Hon Angus Taylor MP Senator the Hon Marise Payne Senator the Hon Zed Seselja 

National Council of Churches in Australia 

379 Kent Street, Sydney NSW 2000 

Dear Prime Minister, 

COP26 and Australia’s role in addressing catastrophic climate change 

We write to you as people of faith who believe the Earth, our common home, is a precious gift created by God, that all life is interdependent, and that we have a responsibility to care for all people and all creation. 

Human activity is contributing to changing our climate and the consequences are already dire. Many of our churches are located at the front lines of climate change impacts and are sounding the alarm for the wellbeing of the communities they serve. 

There is widespread scientific consensus that this situation and the resulting human suffering will only become catastrophically worse unless we change direction. 

For this reason, we believe climate change is a moral imperative. One that requires urgent action in partnership with the international community and alongside our Pacific family. 

We believe Australia can be a leader and champion of ambitious climate action and should pursue a path that gives the greatest hope for the future of God’s creation. 

To that end, as the 26th Conference of the Parties approaches, we urge the Australian Government to commit to: 

  • Scale up Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction target to at least 50% and ambitiously aim for 74% to help limit global temperature rise to less than 1.5 C, and pledge to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 in line with most developed nations
  • A national climate policy and plan for a just, equitable and rapid transition to a low-carbon economy that drives down greenhouse gas pollution 
  • A just and sustainable transition for communities currently dependent on carbon intensive industries for employment, and investment in renewable energy policies that support people, nations and ecosystems that are most vulnerable to climate change, including measures to strengthen the resilience of communities and support people and the services they rely on to adapt to the effects of climate change. 

    We offer this letter with an awareness of our own responsibilities to address climate change. Every member and part of society has a role to play, but a stronger and more ambitious climate agenda from the Australian Government is critical to address the enormous challenge that lies before us. We beliee Australia is ready. 

    Yours in faith, 

    Bishop Philip Huggins, President 

    National Council of Church in Australia 

    The Most Reverend Geoffrey Smith, Primate 

    Anglican Church of Australia 

    Rev. Mark Wilson, National Ministries Director 

    Australian Baptist Ministries

    Rev. Sharon Hollis, President 

    Uniting Church in Australia 

    Dr. Rob Nyhuis, Chair 

    Churches of Christ in Australia 

    Rev. James Bhagwan, General Secretary 

    Pacific Conference of Churches 

    Commissioners Janine & Robert Donaldson 

    The Salvation Army 

    Ann Zubrick, Presiding Clerk 

    The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Australia 

    Bishop Albert Wong 

    Chinese Methodist Church in Australia  

    Keith Lyons, General Secretary 

    The Congregational Federation of Australia and New Zealand 

    Archbishop Haigazoun Najarian, Primate 

    Armenian Apostolic Church of Australia and New Zealand 



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