Australian Bishops support proposed Climate Change Bill

An orphaned baby Koala seeks solace on a vet's shoulder at a makeshift field hospital at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park (AFP or licensors)

Australia’s Catholic Bishops support a proposed Climate Change Bill that aims to provide a national framework for action in response to climate change emergencies.

The Catholic Bishops of Australia say they will support a proposed Bill on a National Framework for Adaptation and Action on climate change.

A statement by Catholic Earthcare Australia, an ecological agency established by the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference on Tuesday indicated that the bishops give their support “in principle” to the Private members Bill that is to be submitted to parliament to galvanise action around Climate Change.   

Lives, Homes, Animals

Months of devastating bushfires in Australia have taken 28 lives so far, destroyed over 2,500 homes and razed forests and farmland the size of Bulgaria. Over a billion animals are estimated to have been killed and some of the nation’s unique flora and ecosystems have been burnt to cinders.

Catholic Earthcare director, Bernard Holland, noted that the successful passage of similar Bills in other nations has provided indications for “the way forward in difficult times”.

The Bill, which is currently being drafted by the Office of Parliamentary Counsel, will set out a framework for national plans to be put in place and updated by the Australian government, and for progress to be monitored and reported.

Bishop Vincent Long of the Australian Bishops’ Commission for Justice Ecology and Development described the proposed framework as very timely.

Solidarity and prayers

Earlier this month, the bishops’ conference released a statement in which they asked for solidarity and prayers for those affected by the fires. They also pointed out that while “the bishops typically respond to challenges at a parish or diocesan level, the scale of this crisis requires a national response from the whole Church to complement and coordinate what is happening locally”.

They put their support behind a donation campaign launched by the St. Vincent de Paul Society and said they would collaborate with national health and social services agencies “to ensure an effective a response as possible from the wider Catholic community.

“With broad and deep roots across the nation, the Church stands ready to walk alongside people throughout their journey of recovery”, the bishops said, renewing their call “for insistent prayer for those stricken by drought and fire, for those who have lost their lives in the fires and their families, for rain to quench the parched land and extinguish the fires, and for urgent action to care for our common home in order to prevent such calamities in the future.”