Australia must lead on climate change: Bishop Long

Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv (Parramatta Diocese)

Parramatta Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv. says the bushfire crisis should serve as a wake-up call to Australia and act as a catalyst for global action on climate change. Source: Catholic Outlook.

Bishop Long, chair of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Commission for Social Justice – Mission and Service, was interviewed last week by German Catholic newspaper Verlagsgruppe Bistumspresse about the bushfires.

What is your view on the horrible fire crisis in Australia? How much does it scare you?

It has been a catastrophic summer for Australia. Dozens of people have died and thousands of properties have been destroyed in the unprecedented bushfire crisis. Countless creatures, including precious livestock, have perished, or even become extinct and their habitats are decimated. Entire towns have been annihilated and livelihoods irreparably damaged.

Despite the best efforts of volunteer firefighters, fire brigades, emergency services, and the military, the destruction is likely to continue for some time yet. There is little doubt that these fires and the drought have been made worse by human activities such as deforestation and burning fossil fuels.

This is a national catastrophe and the scary thing is that the worst might not be over. Beyond the expressions of sympathy and solidarity, there is yet to emerge a clear, resolute and courageous policy forward. This is what concerns the majority of Australians, myself included.

What is your opinion on the Government and especially on Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s handling of the crisis?

The policy directions in relation to cutting carbon emissions that the Government has chosen in recent times go against the signs of the times, international agreements, the advice of scientists and even emergency services chiefs. These have been very clear that the bushfires have been made much worse by human-induced climate change. Yet the Government has not even acknowledged this. Australia’s current climate policies are viewed globally as among the worst in the world.

As a nation, we cannot claim to be a responsible global citizen in addressing the moral challenge of our age while we lag behind other nations on climate action and continue to subsidise old polluting industries. It is true that we are only responsible for a comparatively small amount of carbon emissions. But it is no reason not to act and to show leadership. Australia has always prided itself on punching above its own weight.

The bushfire crisis should serve as a wake-up call to Australia and all Australians. It should serve also as a catalyst for global action on climate change.


Bishop Vincent’s interview with German newspaper Verlagsgruppe Bistumspresse (Catholic Outlook)

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