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‘Australia can do more...’ – Christians taking action on climate

Tearfund supporters around the country are taking action on behalf of all creation. Here are just some of the exciting and creative things that are happening.

In the electorate of Hume in New South Wales, a small but passionate group of Christians has been waiting since early 2021 for a chance to meet with local member and Federal Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor.

They have plenty to discuss with him once the meeting happens.

One member of the Camden Christians Together For Climate group, Lyn, says she’s worried about what the future will look like for Australia’s near neighbours.

“I want Australia to be a good neighbour,” she said. “Australia’s lack of action on climate change is impacting our Pacific neighbours, especially in rising sea levels. It also puts our children and grandchildren’s future at risk.

Australia can do more to help the Pacific neighbours adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Lyn Camden Christians Together For Climate group

Heather Loomes, a leader in the group, says that like many ordinary Australians, she is doing everything she can to reduce her carbon footprint, including driving an electric car. But she says the government needs to take the lead when it comes to taking real action on climate change.

“Many Aussie individuals, businesses, farmers and other interest groups are leading the way in reducing our impact on the environment, yet our Australian government still wants to fund dirty gas and coal projects,” she said.

“Ordinary, everyday Christians care about climate change and tackling those major issues.”

Lyn and Heather are among many Tearfund supporters around the country who are concerned about the impact of climate change on God’s creation.

Christians taking action on climate Townsville TF group

Meeting with MPs

Townsville resident Bob Beasley, who is also part of Tearfund’s Christians Together for Climate campaign, has seen first-hand the impacts of climate change on the North Queensland community where he lives.

Stress on the iconic Great Barrier Reef, temperature changes, the effects of rising sea levels on Torres Strait Islander communities and the decrease in nutritional content on North Queensland pastures has prompted Bob, and other Christians in his community, to urge political leaders to act on climate change.

Bob says lobbying in the Herbert electorate has taught him the importance of being a mouthpiece for climate justice.

“Christians are called to be stewards of the environmental ‘talents’ Christ has entrusted to us,” says Bob.

In June, Bob and seven other members of the group met with Herbert MP Phillip Thompson to discuss their concerns.

Bob described the meeting as positive.

“It was great to have the opportunity to highlight the issues that are important to us,” he said.

“We presented Phillip Thompson with a Tearfund For All Creation poster and another poster we made ourselves, with notes explaining why each of us is concerned about climate change.

“He listened and promised to take the posters to Canberra where he said he would make representations on our behalf.”

Further south, at the ecumenical Christian school John Paul College in Logan, students have been busy making TikTok videos to express in a personal way what climate change means to them.

They’re in Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers’ electorate of Rankin, which covers the outer southern suburbs of the City of Brisbane and portions of the City of Logan. The students are part of a community care group engaged in justice talks at the college.

In Warwick, in rural Queensland, several churches invited Tearfund supporter Mark Delaney to run a sustainable living workshop in September.

He says: “For two hours on a Saturday afternoon we had plenty of discussions, enjoyed interactive activities, and even had a decent look inside of a Tesla! During the afternoon we looked first at the ‘bad news’ of how climate change will adversely affect all of us, especially our friends in the developing world, should we continue with ‘business as usual’.

“We then considered the ‘better news’ of what we can do about it. We looked briefly at scientific and political solutions, before focusing on everyday lifestyle changes that you and I can implement. These ranged from changing our purchasing habits, through to our diet and transport. One of the most immediate actions considered was to pick up the phone and ask our electricity provider to give 100% green power. For a small extra charge per KW hour, this obliges the retailer to source your electricity from renewables, rather than from fossil fuel sources. This was a good example of how the actions of ordinary people like our friends in Warwick can change much bigger, and often intransigent, systems.

“The 30 or so attendees engaged enthusiastically with the material, I appreciated some famous rural hospitality, and the afternoon was generally a lovely example of people putting their faith into action for the sake of our common home.”

Christians taking action on climate lament service

And on 24 October, on the eve of the COP 26 talks in Glasgow, the Christians Together for Climate group in Wills, in Melbourne’s inner north, hosted an ecumenical climate lament service, with support and resources from Tearfund.

The event was held online due to COVID-19 restrictions, and around 30 people took part. Songs written by musicians at Brunswick Uniting Church formed part of the liturgy.

Anglican minister and Ridley College lecturer the Revd Len Firth, one of the organisers of the service, said that lament was a powerful way to respond to and express concerns about climate change and related climate justice issues.

“One of the key components of lament is prayer,” he said. “Lament is naming before God what is not right. In our world, climate is not right. Many of our responses on climate are not right. It is right to name them before God and to reach out to God for his help.”

He said there was great hope in biblical lament: “We name honestly and openly before God what is out of sorts, but we remember that it is God’s world, and that he cares about it.” The lament psalms in the Scriptures usually involve a movement from lament to expressions of faith and trust.

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Emma Halgren is Content Lead at Tearfund. Scott Downman is Tearfund's Lead Community Organiser (QLD).