​Faith leaders from across the religious spectrum say world leaders have a moral duty to stop digging

​Faith leaders from across the religious spectrum have challenged global political, faith and business leaders to sign on to the call of President of the Republic of The Kiribati, Anote Tong, for a moratorium on all new coal mines and expansions.

Thea Ormerod, President of the multi-faith Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), said:

"Pope Francis in his encyclical, and Muslim leaders at the Islamic Climate Summit in Istanbul, are recent examples of how religious leaders have been speaking out about the great global challenge of climate change."
- Thea Ormerod

"The future for our children and theirs, and especially for the world's most vulnerable such as in the low-lying islands of Kiribati, ultimately depends on real action being taken now," she said. "Meaningful action on climate is plainly incompatible with the continued expansion and opening up of coal reserves."

In a letter sent to world leaders last week, President of the Republic of The Kiribati, Anote Tong wrote;

"Each new coal mine undermines the spirit and intent of any agreement we may reach. To avoid catastrophic climate change, we must leave the vast bulk of carbon reserves in the ground,"
- President of the Republic of The Kiribati, Anote Tong

Mr Tong has criticised Australia's commitment to new coal mines on economic grounds as a "very selfish perspective" that illustrates the "fundamentally unjust" dynamics of climate change.

As a small island nation, Kiribati is threatened by rising seas caused by climate change and are reportedly considering relocating their entire population or building man-made islands to rehouse them.

Mr Tong says Australia has a moral obligation to worry about at-risk countries like his own.

Many Australians including the multi-faith community agree that a world which tackles global warming needs less coal, not more.

A world moving towards 100% renewable energy needs to stop building more coal mines. More mines means less renewable energy and more climate disruption.

"Many of our world leaders claim to be people of faith yet their collective failure to act according to the expert advice on climate change is morally reprehensible," said Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black, Environmental Adviser to the Council of Progressive Rabbis.

"The present situation demands that they agree that when it comes to coal, we simply must stop digging," he added.

"We as leaders of faith are calling for all people of conscience to support the Kiribati President's urgent call for action and ensure that people across communities, across the world take part in making his vision a reality, his country's future, and many more are depending on it," said Professor Nihal Agar, Chair of the Hindu Council of Australia.

"Global warming isn't just a theory in many places across this fragile planet of ours, it's lapping at people's doorsteps. The world desperately needs to stop extracting fossil fuels from the ground and accelerate investment in renewable energies," said Bishop Professor Stephen Pickard, Executive Director of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture.

There has been some good news this week, such as Newcastle city council, home of the world's largest coal port, divesting from fossil fuels.

The science is clear: we can't burn most fossil fuels and have any reasonable chance of staying under 2 degrees warming. We need to 'keep it in the ground'.

You can learn more about the No New Coal Mines campaign here.


The UN's Christiana Figueres has the task of convincing the world to give up fossil fuels

Global moratorium on coal: Will Australia get left behind?

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