Churches want all sides to make climate change an election issue

MUSLIM, Uniting, Catholic and Hindu religious leaders are to write to the Federal Government and Opposition, urging quick climate change action to help avert a devastating 4C rise in global temperatures.

The religious leaders say they are as one on human-induced climate change and have called for bipartisan support for carbon pricing, the fast-tracking of renewable energy and the winding back of coal exports.

Carbon pricing is opposed by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott but supported by Labor.

The letter follows a prediction from scientists at a conference in Tasmania this week that sea level rises will likely be double the .5m forecast by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for the end of this century.

HEATING UP: Religious leaders have issued a dire warning that temperatures are on the rise.

HEATING UP: Religious leaders have issued a dire warning that temperatures are on the rise. Source: News Limited

Professor Tim Naish, director of the Antarctic Research Centre at Victoria University of Wellington, said the window was closing quickly on mitigation options in terms of a world response.

“Rises could be higher than what the upper bounds of IPCC would suggest,” Prof Naish said. “We have got to prepare for a world with extreme climate. Wetter areas will be wetter and warmer places will get warmer.”

CO2 levels have passed 400 ppm for the first time in 3 million years.

Weather bureau chief Rob Vertessy said humankind was changing the earth at a rapid pace and in a way that had never happened before.

“Change on the planet largely stems from population growth, growing consumption and that is going to accelerate all kinds of environmental processes,” Dr Vertessy said.

“We are going to lose a lot more natural capital and the climate and earth will change with it.”

Prominent religious leaders to sign the letter include the Grand Mufti Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammad; the Chair of Catholic Earthcare Australia, Archbishop Philip Wilson; the President of the Uniting Church Assembly, Rev Professor Andrew Dutney; and the Chair of the Hindu Council of Australia, Professor Nihal Agar.

The letter, which has gone viral on social media a week before its formal launch, says: “Influential bodies are now warning us about an unthinkable 4C rise in temperatures if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase. Recent experiences of extreme weather events, both here and overseas, are a mild foretaste of what this will mean.”

Uniting Church NSW-ACT Moderator, the Reverend Dr Brian Brown said: “We urge all Australians to give this moral issue the attention it demands. If we don’t, our children and grandchildren will face devastating consequences because of our failure to act now.”

In the 2011 Census, more than 67 per cent of Australians identified themselves with the religions from which the signatories are drawn.

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