The unlikely gift sparking climate action

Rosie Clare Shorter reflects on the impact the gift of the Knit for Climate Action scarf is having in opening up conversation for climate action.

Super heroes, according to Edna Mode, must never wear capes. This is her emphatic advice to the newly re-energised Mr Incredible, who once again is hoping to save the world.

His look must be ‘bold, dramatic, heroic,’ but under no circumstances can this include a cape. But perhaps, were Edna Mode real, and were the passionate – but bumbling and out of practice – super hero in front of her wanting to save the world from the escalating impacts of climate change, she might approve of a scarf. 

A scarf, a typical winter accessory, may seem an unlikely uniform for those living in a warming world and fighting for a safe climate for all. Yet, a bold, dramatic, and I like to think, heroic scarf, is at the centre of The Knit for Climate Action campaign.

The handmade scarves at the centre of this campaign depict 101 years of climate data, from 1919 to 2019. Each row of knitting reflects the average annual global temperature from 1919-2019, a bold and dramatic visual representation of climate change. Looking at it, I can see that in my lifetime there have been no cool dark blue years, not even light blue. Only increasingly deeper (hotter) shades of orange and red.

This campaign calls political leaders across these lands now called Australia to work for bold and credible action on climate, and encourages them to make their commitment to climate action visible, by wearing a scarf. 

Since June, alongside Common Grace supporters, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with our nation’s leaders to gift these scarves. 

I’ve gifted a scarf to Tanya Plibersek, the federal member for Sydney and joined Zoom meetings with Pat Conroy, the federal member for Shortland, and my own MP, Linda Burney, the federal member for Barton. 

I have been encouraged by these conversations with our nation's leaders. 

When we gave Ms Burney her scarf she said: “The parliament is at a critical point. The mineral council came out supporting zero emissions. You've got farmers and miners saying this is the reality." 

Alongside farmers and miners, we’re adding the voices of everyday Christian people, (and dedicated knitters), across these lands now called Australia. It is exciting and encouraging knowing that each week several scarves have been  received and worn, and that at the same time conversations about climate action are happening.

For me, this woven piece of wearable data is not just a reminder of the reality of climate change, it is a reminder that social inequalities and injustices are interwoven.  And if injustice is interwoven and intersecting, our response must be too. 

Responding to climate change means working for a just and liveable world. This is climate justice. For supporters of Common Grace climate justice is care, protection, and restoration of creation, listening to and being led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and actively loving our local, national and global neighbours. 

This is why, as we have met with our federal politicians, we have presented them with a scarf and set out four key policy asks. We have asked them to commit to building back greener as we recover from the disruptions caused by Covid-19, to rapidly decarbonise the economy, to listen and be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and to increase our contribution to the Green Climate Fund. 

And we have had one extra ask. That they would #WearTheScarf to signal their commitment to take urgent action on climate change. Specifically, we asked that they wear it in parliament on October 21, the last joint sitting day before COP 26, to stand together for climate justice and a safe climate for all. 

Last Thursday, 21 October, we saw at least 63 MPs and Senators #WearTheScarf! We were so thankful to see such clear commitment and action from more than a quarter of our nation’s leaders. You can read more about this event here.

I don’t have a dramatic climate conversion story. For me, climate action is just the right thing to do. I hope that everyone who wore this scarf last Thursday, and continues to #WearTheScarf, whether they are a politician, a passionate – but bumbling and out of practise – activist or would-be superhero, is emboldened to speak up for climate, to speak up for justice. Because if we all do this, as individuals and collectively as a nation, we can work for a safe climate and future for all peoples. 

Find out how you can help Knit for Climate Action and spark conversations for climate action here.

Rosie Clare Shorter is a PhD Candidate in the Religion and Society Research Cluster at Western Sydney University. She is studying Anglicanism as a lived religion in Sydney. She is interested in hearing about how people live their faith, and in exploring the interaction of gender, sexuality, evangelism and religious authority. She has a Master of Research and Bachelor of Creative Arts from Macquarie University.

Creation & Climate Justice