Faith leaders have held interfaith ‘Funeral for Coal’ Vigils outside the offices of Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, and Shadow Environment Minister Tony Burke. The leaders argue that the world cannot afford new coal mines, due to the contribution to climate change that this would involve.
The Vigils were organised by the multi-faith grassroots organisation, the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC).
Those gathering outside Mr Shorten’s office included a Uniting Church minister, a Baptist pastor, four ordained Buddhists, an Anglican priest, a Jewish Rabbi, and a Sister of Mercy, as well as dozens of regular followers from different faith traditions.
Similar Vigils were held in the previous week by Fr Rod Bower on the NSW Central Coast, and outside the office of Chris Bowen in Western Sydney. Mr Bowen, the Shadow Treasurer, said in February that Labor would not block a new Adani coal mine.
Uniting Church minister Rev. Alex Sangster was once arrested once in November 2017 for blocking access to work on the Adani mine. Rev. Sangster said that she is prepared to be arrested again.
“Life as we know it is under threat,” she said.
“If our elected representatives do not stop Adani’s planned coal mine, I will join civil resistance efforts to help stop it.”
In 2018 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that global thermal coal use must drop by at least 59 per cent in the next 10 – 12 years if we are to avoid 1.5 Degree C warming.
Prominent faith leaders have also spoken out on the urgency of the challenge. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has called climate change a “moral crisis” and “the human thumb on the scale, pushing us toward disaster.”
Pope Francis said in his famous encyclical, Laudato Si’ that, “Doomsday predictions can no longer be met with irony and disdain.”
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor