In the face of political repudiation of scientific consensus about climate change, leaders from many religious traditions in Australia are championing truth and the environment over wilful neglect of the evidence.
The Rt. Reverend Professor Stephen Pickard (pictured), Executive Director of the Charles Sturt University (CSU) Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture (ACC&C) in Canberra, recently joined with ten other respected senior religious and academic leaders to sign an open letter urging the federal government to reject the proposed massive Adani coal mine in the Galilee Basin in Queensland.
The letter was addressed to the federal Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Mr Josh Frydenberg, MP, and was published on the ABC Religion and Ethics webpage by Professor Pickard and Ms Thea Ormerod, President of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change.
The letter begins, 'As leaders in our diverse faith traditions, we feel compelled to challenge those responsible for Australia's current climate and energy policies. In particular, we declare the proposal to provide public money to fund mining infrastructure in the Galilee Basin to be morally wrong.
'The reality of human-caused climate change is settled science. Now it is time for action. We believe that people of goodwill must work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as a matter of emergency, and to prepare for the inevitable consequences of the climate disruption already caused by earlier decisions.'
As a signatory to the letter, Professor Pickard endorses the premise shared by his colleagues that given the climate emergency that the world now faces, it is morally irresponsible for Australia to allow the building of any new coal mines, coal-fired power stations or other fossil fuel infrastructure.
'Furthermore, it is incorrect to promote 'clean coal',' Professor Pickard said. 'No coal is clean.
'Regardless of the science of climate change that confronts us, it is simply bad policy for relatively short-term gain to promote coal-based industrial development that has the potential to negatively impact existing and long-term future of agriculture, water resources and tourism across large areas of Queensland.
'It is simply irresponsible and baffling that our political leaders are putting our climate and water supplies in jeopardy.'
Professor Pickard and his fellow signatories called on the government ' … to show strong, visionary leadership, for the sake of their fellow Australians, for the millions of vulnerable people on earth, for future generations who have no say of their own, and for all of creation'.