Catholic groups call for bold action on climate change

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Parishes across Australia are raising banners ahead of Laudato Si’ week and the upcoming federal election, calling for bold action on climate change.

Laudato Si’ Week 2022, to be held May 22-29, will mark the seventh anniversary of Pope Francis’ historic encyclical on the care of creation.

“I think people are starting to realize that this is an important issue that we need to speak out on,” said Wayne Anderson, of Kedron parish in Brisbane.

“And I think it’s about being authentic to the call of the gospel.”

Mr Anderson is a member of his parish’s Justice Peace and Care for Creation committee, keen to promote Laudato Si’ Week 2022, marking the seventh anniversary of Pope Francis’ historic encyclical on the care of creation.

The day before – May 21 – Australian voters will head to the polls with climate change identified as the number one election issue, ahead of the cost of living and the economy, according to the ABC’s Vote Compass.

Data collected from nearly 100,000 Australians shows that climate change has become an issue of concern in recent years, rising from 5% of Australians saying it was their most important issue in 2016 to 27% in 2019 and 29 % in 2022.

Severe droughts, bushfires and floods have fueled concerns about climate change.

Among 18 to 29 year olds, 38% identified the problem as their priority.

“I know from my own children that climate issues are where they are,” said Mr Anderson, who has two daughters and a granddaughter.

“And their friends kind of look at us in the Catholic Church and say ‘Why don’t you do more about this? “.”

Mr Anderson said the lead-up to Laudato Si’ week (and the federal election) represented an opportunity to raise environmental awareness and publicly lobby for a 50% cut in greenhouse gas emissions from here 2030.

“The longer we leave it, the greater the risk to the planet,” he said.

“My feeling is that a lot of Catholics just hope that whatever government is in power will come out of this and do the right thing.”

Mr Anderson said he had been encouraged by Australian faith leaders signing an Easter open letter calling on government leaders to take action on climate change.

The signatories of the letter, including the Archbishop of Brisbane, Mark Coleridge and the Bishop of Parramatta, Vincent Long Van Nguyen, call for:

  • Halve carbon emissions within this decade, in line with the latest recommendations from scientists and the targets of their major trading partners;
  • Transform the energy system to 100% renewable electricity while ensuring a planned and just transition for energy workers; and
  • Invest in programs to help frontline communities plan, prepare for and adapt to extreme weather events.

The multi-faith network Australian Religious Response to Climate Change provides a website with tools and information on the science of climate change, relevant public policies and dates of upcoming public events and actions.

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