Laudato Si’ Week couldn’t be better timed for those reflecting on an economic recovery from COVID-19 that tackles unemployment, rebuilds a resilient economy and addresses climate change, writes Thea Ormerod. Source: ABC Religion and Ethics.
The reminder of Pope Francis’ historic encyclical, Laudato Si’: On care for our common home, adds his moral authority to the case made by concerned Australian economists regarding how this practically can be done.
The anniversary comes on the heels of another Australian School Strike 4 Climate on 15 May (online this time). No doubt Francis would be pleased about that, given his frequent praise of Greta Thunberg and the school strikers more generally.
With his usual talent for pithy messaging, Francis said in his Earth Day message in April, “still it will be necessary for our children to take to the streets to teach us the obvious: we have no future if we destroy the very environment that sustains us.”
When Laudato Si’ was written, prevailing opinion held that working to protect the environment meant sacrificing economic goals, at least in the short-term. While Francis' emphasis was on the moral argument for caring about the environment generally and climate change in particular, long-term, the research was already showing that the economic costs of acting to mitigate climate change would be far, far less than the costs of dealing with cascading climate breakdown. The evidence for this only grows stronger.
The pandemic has afforded us all a pause in business-as-usual. Here in Australia, it has been encouraging to witness the strength of people’s care for each other at the grassroots level and, at a government level, the prioritising of people’s health and well-being over budget surpluses and economic growth. In a crisis, thankfully it has been recognised that our nation needs well-resourced government leadership more so that mindless “market forces”.
Likewise, the new bipartisanship in decision-making processes between Labor and the Coalition has been a breath of fresh air.
The nation needs this spirit of collaboration when facing the climate crisis as it accelerates. This bipartisanship should begin now as decisions are being made on how to direct economic stimulus packages for the recovery from COVID-19 lockdown.
Thea Ormerod is President of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), a retired social worker, grandmother and long-time social justice advocate.
Laudato Si’: Pope Francis’s encyclical offers a vital contribution to the post-COVID-19 recovery (ABC Religion and Ethics)