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As new Senate sworn in, Australian government under pressure over climate stance

Australian government

The Australian youth came out in force to tell the government to act on climate change. Courtsey of: Australian Youth Climate Coalition, 2014

As its new Senate was sworn in and the carbon tax repeal bills began rolling through the upper house, the Australian government faced renewed pressure this week over its stance on climate change.

As the new Senate met inside Parliament House, outside hundreds of young people, including school students and youth leaders came together, calling on the new Senators to protect their future.

The groups spelt their message out on the Parliament House lawns, arranging themselves into the words “Your Choice = Our Future”.

They also staged a “Youth Hearing”, inviting Senators to listen to the testimony from young people from across the country as they spoke about climate change.

Lucy Manne, Co-Director of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition said:

Young Australian have grown up learning the science of climate change and it doesn’t make sense to us that despite the overwhelming evidence, our government is still failing to act. Our message to new Senators is this: think about your children and grandchildren, the future generations who will bear the cost of your decisions on climate.

However, the Australian government is not only under pressure from young citizens.

The first day of the Senate followed a call from the Anglican Church of Australia for churches across the country to divest from fossil fuels.

In a motion passed by the church’s General Synod, Dr Beth Heyde, chairwomen of its Public Affairs Commission said it made financial sense to give up shares in the fossil fuels industry, which is most responsible for global warming.

The recommendation was passed alongside another motion scolding the Australian government for “denigrating” climate science.

Dr Heyde said:

The market can be expected to recognise that investments in fossil fuels are becoming very risky. They may well become ‘stranded assets’, whose value rapidly decreases as buyers no longer want them.

The vote from the General Synod follows move from several dioceses across Australia looking into the possibility of divesting.

The General Synod is the governing body of the Anglican Church of Australia, and is made up of bishops, lay and clergy representatives from all 23 dioceses in the country.

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