Caritas Australia is calling on Catholic school students to write to newly-minted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull asking him to commit to emission reduction targets beyond 2020.
Inspired by Pope Francis’ encyclical on climate change, the Our Common Home campaign will ask Australia’s leaders to think about future generations.
The campaign will also call on the government to give Australia’s fair share of funds for climate change adaptation in poorer countries.
Caritas Australia, the Catholic Church’s international aid and development agency, works to alleviate poverty and injustice in more than 30 countries, including those facing the long-term consequences of global warming.
In his encyclical Laudato Si’, released in June, Pope Francis called for individual, local and international transformational change to safeguard the earth for present and future generations. The Holy Father emphasises that the poorest and most marginalised communities around the world are those who will bear the largest brunt of climate change and that their dignity should be upheld.
Caritas Australia education manager Jane Woolford said climate change is the single biggest threat to reducing global poverty.
“While every person on the planet is affected by climate change, the impact is especially severe for women, men and children most vulnerable to extreme poverty – those who have done the least to contribute to global warming,” she said.
“The communities we work with have told us of the increasing ferocity of cyclones and other extreme weather-related events, of rising sea levels, of the increasing unpredictability of farming seasons, of food insecurity, of water supplies contaminated with salinity, and of the negative impacts on community health and wellbeing.”
She urged all schools to stand in solidarity with poorer nations through the Caritas Australia Hearts4Climate campaign.
“We have a huge school network across the country and together can send a clear message to our Prime Minister and his government on climate change ahead of the Paris talks in November.”