Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Australia’s religious leaders unite to oppose Adani coal mine expansion

The Adani coalmine will hasten a climate catastrophe. As faith leaders, we must act
A Buddhist leader has told environment minister Josh Frydenberg he would stand in front of machinery if digging started. All people of faith should join him,
Guardian,   Jonathan Keren-Black and Tejopala Rawls, 23 Aug 17 
  Earlier in August, six faith leaders met Australia’s environment and energy minister, Josh Frydenberg. Our group included Bishop Philip Huggins, the president of the National Council of Churches, a Uniting Church reverend, a rabbi, a Catholic nun and an ordained Buddhist. This is not the start of a joke, but a polite and serious exchange.

It might seem that religion has little to do with the environment or energy. Yet each of us at the meeting wanted to raise a matter that, when we consider the deepest values of our respective traditions, is of grave moral concern: the proposed Adani coalmine. We were there to ask the minister to revoke its environmental licence.

The delegation reminded the minister that a number of faith leaders from across Australia wrote him an open letter about it on 5 May, to which he had not yet replied.

Around the world a great many people of faith are deeply concerned about the climate crisis.  Despite the reactionary nature of some in the United States, faith leaders are almost completely united and supportive of the science. The pope has issued his famous encyclical, Laudato Si, faith leaders were part of the successful movement in the US to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, and the Dalai Lama has spoken of the need for strong action. The co-founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben, is a mild-mannered Methodist Sunday school teacher…….

Whichever way you look at it, this is the great moral issue of our time. Nothing less than the stability of civilisation and the viability of life on Earth is at stake.

Frydenberg told our delegation that, if Australian coal were not burnt in India, dirtier coal would be burnt instead, resulting in greater carbon emissions. We pointed out that one argument against the abolition of slavery in Great Britain was that they would just have lost market share to the Dutch and the French, who would apparently have treated the slaves worse. The minister rejected the comparison.

Frydenberg paints the Adani issue as more complex than we may appreciate. We need the employment. We point out how a fraction of the promised subsidies could employ more people, in clean, renewable energy jobs, while further coral bleaching and 500 extra ships per year through the reef would jeopardise thousands of tourism jobs. We emphasise the crucial truth that the world can only produce around 700bn tonnes more CO2 if we are to avoid climate catastrophe, and that global emissions are currently around 50bn tonnes a year, so time is extremely limited. Adani alone will add 4.6bn tonnes. We do appreciate the complexities; even so, this mine ultimately involves a simple moral choice.

Aside from the dangers of rising temperatures and seas, more intense storms, floods and droughts, World Health Organisation figures show that over 100,000 people each year will also die prematurely from lung diseases from burning the coal from this reef-wrecking mega-mine. The minister seems unmoved.

Rabbi Keren-Black asked the minister what he thought were the views of climate scientists employed by the Australian government about building this mine. Momentarily, Frydenberg seemed lost for words.

As the meeting came to a close, our Buddhist member, Tejopala, told the minister that he would stand in front of machinery if digging started and that other members of his order had said the same thing. Reverend Sangster concurred.

Faith communities have real influence. The minister probably only granted us a meeting because we are religious leaders. Perhaps the two most powerful things people of faith can do are to encourage moving our accounts from banks and superannuation funds that invest in fossil fuels, and to practice non-violent direct action – peacefully obstructing the worst coal, oil and gas projects by physically standing in their way.

As we stepped outside the meeting, Reverend Sangster turned to the group and said: “Well, then. See you at the barricades.” Indeed. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/23/as-faith-leaders-we-asked-frydenberg-to-cancel-the-adani-mine-its-a-simple-moral-choice

 

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August 25, 2017 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, religion and ethics

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