More than 150 religious leaders have called on Scott Morrison to acknowledge the world faces a climate emergency and block all new coal and gas projects, including Adani’s Carmichael mine.
In an open letter headed “no faith in coal”, the leaders say the climate crisis is a profoundly moral problem and Australia’s response will be crucial in addressing it.
“Simply put, opening up new coal reserves for mining is not compatible with any global response to avoid catastrophe. We call on you to show true moral leadership,” the letter says.
Signatories to the letter include bishops, rabbis, theologians, the grand mufti of Australia and the heads of the Uniting Church, the Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils, Muslims Australia and the National Council of Churches.
It asks the prime minister to make the climate emergency his number one priority and endorses the three demands of protesting school students: stopping the Adani mine in central Queensland, not allowing new coal or gas developments and moving Australia to run entirely on renewable energy by 2030.
“Despite the differences in our faith, we all regard addressing the climate emergency as our shared moral challenge. We stand together for our common home, the Earth,” the letter says.
“Will you and your government have the courage to agree to this simple threefold agenda? We pray that you will.”
The letter was organised by advocacy group the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change. It concedes the shift will be challenging, not least for people in communities reliant on fossil fuel industries, but says a courageous leader would come up with a jobs plan based on clean energy.
Loreto Sister Libby Rogerson said burning fossil fuels was worsening extreme weather, crop failures and sea level rise. By continuing the practice, Australia was moving further away from “loving God and God’s creation and loving our neighbour”, she said.
“We have a sacred responsibility to care for the Earth and all living beings, especially the vulnerable people on the frontlines,” she said.
The letter was published shortly after City of Sydney became the latest jurisdiction to declare a climate emergency. Councillors unanimously backed a motion by the lord mayor, Clover Moore, on Monday warning the climate crisis poses a serious risk to Sydneysiders.
Noting Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions have increased four years straight, Moore called on the Morrison government to respond urgently by reintroducing a price on carbon and establishing a body to help workers in fossil fuel industries to transition to other jobs.
“Successive federal governments have shamefully presided over a climate disaster, and now we are at a critical juncture,” she said.
Other cities to have declared a climate emergency include London, Auckland and Vancouver. At a meeting in March, Australia’s capital city mayors called for national action to adapt to the changing climate, including increasing storm severity, extreme heat, drought, floods and bushfire.
The government has rejected calls for additional policies to reduce emissions, which began to rise after the Coalition repealed a carbon price scheme in 2014.
In a speech to business leaders in Perth on Monday, which focused on reducing regulation, Morrison said: “We all agree you need to take action on climate change and we’re taking responsible and effective action.”