Everything you need to know about Micah's Community Climate Petition.
- What is the petition about?
- Why does it matter?
- What is happening with Australia's emissions?
- Will it make a difference?
- Why now?
- Which groups are behind the petition?
- Who else is raising concern about climate change?
- How will the petition work?
- How do I collect signatures?
- Is there a minimum age for signing the petition?
- Can people sign who don't live in my electorate?
What is the petition about?
This petition calls on the Australian Government to take stronger action to reduce our emissions, transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy, and support our poorest and most vulnerable neighbours as they face the increasing impacts of climate change.
Why does it matter?
Climate change is already hurting vulnerable communities and making hard lives harder in many parts of the world. Climate change is hurting people directly through extreme weather events, disrupted rainfall patterns, changed pathways for pests and diseases, the melting of glaciers and sea level rise. Climate change also adds to stresses of poverty, inequality and conflict.
For the people of low-lying island nations such as Tuvalu sea level rise, as well as increasingly intense storm surges and cyclones that come with climate change, threatens people's livelihoods and lives, and even the existence of entire communities and countries.
Australia, too, is vulnerable to climate change. It is already affecting many magnificent parts of creation, such as the Great Barrier Reef, and Tasmania's wilderness. Communities and towns and cities, including Indigenous Australians, farming communities, and the many people who live along our coasts, are all vulnerable to climate change. Greater frequency and intensity of heatwaves, droughts, bushfires, extreme weather, as well as sea level rise pose social and economic risks for us all.
Responding to climate change is simply part of what it means to follow Jesus in the 21st Century. It’s part of what it means to love and stand with our vulnerable neighbours in the global village. It’s part of what it means to love and honour God as we care for God’s creation.
What is happening with Australia's emissions?
Are you ready for one of the biggest scandals in Australia's climate policy?
Although we have set a target to reduce our greenhouse gas pollution by 5% on 2000 levels by the year 2020, our emissions are actually increasing!
The Government projects that Australia's greenhouse gas emissions will increase by about 6% from 560 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2014-15 to 593 megatonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2019-20. This will be driven mainly by more emissions from Liquid National Gas, more pollution from transport, and greater "fugitive" emissions that leak from the production, transport and use of fossil fuels.
How does that square with the Government's promise that we are going to "meet and beat" our 2020 target?
Basically, it's an accounting trick. Under the Kyoto Protocol, Australia carved out a deal to increase emissions by +8% above 1990 levels. Because our emissions from deforestation were already drastically lower, we were able to hold the increase in emissions to less than this upper limit.
Because of a hot air loophole in the Kyoto Protocol, we can claim the difference in what we were allowed and what actually happened as credit towards our future emissions reduction pledges. While Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK have all cancelled these surplus credits and won't use them to meet their emissions reduction commitments, Australia would miss our targets by a long shot without this accounting trick.
Want to know the other big scandal in Australia's climate policies?
Our 2030 targets – if matched by other countries – would condemn the world to rapid and extremely dangerous levels of warming and we don't have the policies in place to reach even those woefully inadequate targets.
The Australian Government has committed to reduce emissions by 26–28% below 2005 levels by the year 2030. These are among the weakest emissions reduction targets among all developed countries.
Climate Tracker rates our targets as inadequate. If most other countries followed Australia's lead, the world would experience rapid and extremely dangerous levels of warming exceeding 3–4°C.
It's also clear that current policies, which pay polluters to reduce emissions (including through projects they may well have undertaken anyway) cannot reach even this inadequate target.
Which is why it's so important for us to raise our voice now.
Will it make a difference?
A petition to the Parliament is the most direct way you can ask the Parliament to take action.
If our Parliament receives many petitions on climate from local communities across the country, our politicians will better understand the breadth and depth of support for stronger action to reduce emissions and support vulnerable communities in our region.
One petition in one electorate might be possible to ignore. Any number of email petitions can be sent straight to trash.
But one hundred-and- fifty old-school, pen-and-paper petitions, gathered by churches and schools and community groups across all of Australia’s 150 electorates is hard to ignore. By coordinating our efforts, handing the petitions to MPs at one key moment, and having our requests heard by Parliament, we will make it impossible to ignore.
Action to tackle climate change is at a crossroads – both globally and in Australia.
If we take strong and urgent to address climate change now, we may still avoid its worst impacts, protect our natural environment, build more sustainable energy and transport systems, and support our vulnerable neighbours.
However, if we fail to act with urgency, we will condemn ourselves, the vulnerable poor and future generations to increased hazards and impacts from climate change that may be beyond our ability to manage or respond to.
Globally, the Paris Climate Agreement, which entered into force on 4 November 2016, commits all nations to work together to keep warming well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to work to limit the increase to 1.5°C. This means that we will need rapid reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases, to achieve zero net emissions (a balance between what we emit and what might be captured through reforestation and other processes) and then negative net emissions as a matter of urgency.
In Australia, the Government will undertake two reviews in the next two years to assess the effectiveness of its own policies to tackle climate change.
In June 2017, the Australian Government will launch a review into its Emissions Reduction Fund, the scheme that pays polluters to cut some of their greenhouse gas emissions. In 2018, the Australian Government must also review Australia’s national emissions reduction targets in order to take stronger targets and policies to the 2020 international climate negotiations.
However, there are huge gaps between what we need to do, what we have pledged to do, and what we are actually doing. We need to speak out now in order to close those gaps.
In Australia, the Government is launching two reviews in the next two years to decide whether our targets and policies are strong enough to tackle climate change. (Hint: they’re not. Not by a long shot.)
While most businesses, farmer groups, electricity generators and the general public want stronger action on climate change, there are a committed core of politicians and fossil fuel lobby groups who want to delay action or do as little as possible.
In order to close the gaps between what Australia needs to do, what we have pledged to do, and what we are actually doing, we need to speak out.
Which groups are behind the petition?
Micah Australia is coordinating the petition as a tool to empower Christians (and other concerned citizens) to take action on climate change.
To make the petition as powerful as possible, we also want it be something that any individual or group from any faith background (or no faith at all) can sign and also gather signatures for.
For that reason, while it’s a petition launched and coordinated by Christians, it’s not a petition for Christians alone. For the Community Climate Petition to be influential, it will need to demonstrate wide, deep and diverse support in each of our electorates.
As well as working with Micah member organisations, we are pleased to work together on this petition with many passionate, committed individuals and organisations who are showing leadership on climate justice:
It's an ever-expanding list, so check back here again soon to see who else is on board...
Who else is raising concern about climate change?
Just about everyone.
When you add your name and invite others to sign this petition, you will stand with the majority of Australians who want stronger and more urgent action for climate justice:
How will the petition work?
From January through to July 2017, churches, schools, businesses and other community groups will gather petitions in their local electorate. This coincides with the Government’s review of its “Emissions Reduction Fund” climate policies.
One person will act as a Principal Petitioner for each electorate.
At the end of June, all groups will return the signatures they have collected to the Principal Petitioner for their electorate.
During July and August, Principal Petitioners will coordinate with Petition Organisers in their electorate to hand the petition over to their MP and call on him or her to present it in Parliament. In this way, we'll have 150 petitions being presented during the same period for powerful effect.
In November, as the international climate conference begins, we will hold a coordinated media event to highlight public support for stronger action to tackle climate change.
How do I collect signatures?
The simplest way is to think about the groups you are part of and schedule key moments where you will gather signatures into your calendar.
- At work
- At church or in a faith community
- At school, tafe, college or university
- In a community group or in my neighbourhood
Consider whether you will have an opportunity to make a short presentation to explain the petition and ask for signatures and who do you need to ask in order to do this?
Are there other groups are you in contact with who you could invite to promote the petition (such as local businesses, community groups, and local events or festivals)? Consider when and how will you get in touch with these groups.
Could you gather signatures in public?
Is there a minimum age for signing the petition?
No. Children who are old enough to understand the petition are able to sign the petition if they choose. The House of Representatives petition rules allow for all Australians to petition our Parliament.
Can people sign who don't live in my electorate?
Yes, they can.
Each petition will be presented from the people of a particular electorate. However, you might have people from your church, school, faith community or workplace who live in different electorates. What should you do in that case?
The simplest thing to do is simply have them fill in the name of the church, school, business or group that they belong to as they sign the petition (instead of their own address). If the church or group is located in the electorate, the MP will take that as an indication of community support. (Remember that in the petition, addresses are optional.)
The other option is to contact Micah Australia to find out whether there is a petition being organised in other electorates, and to ask your friends and colleagues to help gather signatures in the electorate they live in.