People before Polluters

People before Polluters

Following the climate marches over the weekend, 250 people staged a protest on the floors of Parliament House in Canberra, forming the ‘People’s Parliament’.

Representatives of Indigenous, Pacific Islander and faith communities, farmers affected by coal and gas mining in Bulga and the Liverpool Plains, and a WWII veteran called on the Australian Government to put people before the fossil fuel industry when negotiating a solution at the UN Climate Talks in Paris.

Several Uniting Church members sat amongst the People’s Parliament, including Rev John Brentnall, who called on Christian Members of Parliament to care for their neighbour and God’s creation through stronger action on climate change.

“Love your neighbour as yourself. I believe that the word neighbour should be given its widest possible meaning. It should include not just those who live next door, but those who live far away. It includes all of humanity… So allowing climate change to continue is an act of disobedience to one of the greatest commandments in our faith,” Brentnall said.

“In Genesis we read that God looked at creation and saw that it was good. But what god sees now is not good…We all need to repent. We need to ask for forgiveness, and we need to change our ways and those in power who sit in [the parliamentary] chambers have the opportunity and the responsibility to make decisions that can begin to make that happen, beginning with decisions to not approve any new coal mines, or any new gas projects.”

Ninety-six year old World War II veteran Bill Ryan also spoke about the inadequacy of the Australian Government’s Paris emission reduction target, which at a reduction of 28% on 2005 levels is one of the lowest in the developed world.

“As I stand here today, I’ve just been thinking of my mates who sacrificed their lives in 1942 to protect this country. And those who did it, if they were alive I’m sure they would have been here today. We fought to save this wonderful land of ours, and now we’ve got the same fight on, but at a bigger scale.

“Our government has gone to paris with that wonderful target of 26%. What’ll it do? It’ll do very little, but while they’re saying those things, they’ll let you know that they’re giving away the Galilee Basin.”

Malcolm Turnbull returned from the Paris Climate Talks the same day, having just refused to sign a statement which would result in the scaling back of fossil fuel subsidies.

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