Australia Waters Down Commitments

Australia’s recalcitrance at the Pacific Island Forum results in a strong declaration of the scope of the climate crisis, but a weakened commitment to respond.

"They dress the wounds of my poor people as if they were nothing. Saying peace, peace, when there is no peace. Saying "all will be well" when nothing is well.” Jeremiah 6:14 

That's the one verse summary of the news today that Australia successfully undermined our neighbours attempts to respond adequately to the unfolding climate crisis.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison joined other Regional leaders for this year's Pacific Islands Forum on Tuvalu. What emerged, directly as a result of Australia’s recalcitrance, was a watered down version of the Tuvalu declaration, called the Kainaki II Declaration. This declaration omits the call to halt the expansion of fossil fuel power-plants and coal mines, and the challenge to all nations to increase their Paris Agreement commitments, amongst other things.  

Rev. James Bhagwan, General Secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches, had pleaded with Mr Morrison to step up on climate action before the forum

"As one person of faith to another, I would like to tell Australia’s Prime Minister: This is not Godly leadership... For Christians, acting to prevent climate catastrophe is not just about survival. It is about loving your neighbour, and protecting God’s creation. Right now, Australia is doing far more than most to desecrate the precious gift that humanity has been given...Morrison has made much of his faith and yet brought a lump of coal into Parliament. For Pacific Islanders, this felt like a nail from the Cross on which Jesus was crucified."

Rev. Bhagwan drew attention to a verse well known to members of Common Grace, continuing,

"Micah 6:8, asks us to ‘Act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God’. As Australia tightens its purse-strings on climate finance, there is no justice for the people bearing the costs of climate change. As it continues to dig up coal, there is no mercy for the Islanders whose homes are being destroyed by worsening weather.

And as Australian politicians crack jokes about our plight and brush off our pleas for climate action, there is definitely no humility on display. No leader who claims Christian morality can allow this conduct on their watch."

Common Grace’s Season of Creation series this year, Rallying for God’s Beautiful Earth, begins with a call for Australia to follow the example of the prodigal son, and return humbly to the rest of the family. Or better, to exercise a Zacchaeus moment, of true restoration for our past pollution and exploitation in the context of global climate action. You can sign up for the series here

Over on the Australian Christian Environmental FB Group, people are being asked to call the Prime Minister’s Office on (02) 62777700 or to contact his office through this official web-form. It may also be worth emailing our foreign minister, Marise Payne: Foreign.minister@dfat.gov.au

Jason John is the Common Grace Climate Justice Lead Campaigner.

Creation & Climate Justice