North Sydney Catholics join faith communities seeking climate justice

On Sunday, 17 October parishioners from North Sydney Catholic Parish and supporters of their Ecology Group gathered on the steps of St Mary’s, North Sydney to support an interfaith Day of Action for Climate.

Two weeks prior to COP26 in Glasgow the community at St Mary’s gathered as part of the Faith 4 Climate Justice campaign in solidarity with other faith communities across Australia, challenging the federal government to do better on its climate commitments. Rabbis sounded the shofar, Imams called the Azan, Church bells sounded, and prayers were said for climate justice. About 100 places of worship across the country hung banners seeking action.

The Day of Action formed part of a Year of Action led by GreenFaith International, whose commitment is articulated in the statement Sacred People, Sacred Heart. That document has been signed by Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. The signatories seek stronger emissions reduction targets by 2030 from wealthy countries and a post-Covid economic recovery that invests in renewable energies. The call for this action includes concern that just transitional arrangements be put in place for communities dependent on coal and gas for jobs.

Those seeking action, whilst recognising the importance of a commitment to net zero emissions by 2050, identify that the chances of such a target being met is impossible without reductions by 2030. In Australia, and other western economies, the request is for reductions of 50% by 2030. Current Australian government commitments are  about half that. Supporters of further action note that this is half the rate of the United States (50%) and the United Kingdom (68%).

We’re telling our government to stop supporting the fossil fuel industry against the needs of our children and their children,” said Thea Ormerod of Australian Religious Response to Climate Change.

Sunday’s Day of Action follows a similar day on 11 March this year involving 137 faith communities in Australia, and 420 around the world. In mid-September hand-written letters from members of Australia’s faith communities were sent to the Prime Minister. These campaigns also seek to remind politicians and the public that as the world’s largest exporter of coal and liquified natural gas, Australia can influence and impact global outcomes.  

The group at St Mary’s, North Sydney gathered with Assistant Parish Priest, Fr Andy Nguyen SJ, and in solidarity with the commitment Pope Francis has articulated, expressed by the Jesuit Province in Australia by its developing Laudato Si action plan.

For more from Australian Religious Response to Climate Change: