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Climate change: not just about economics, but also about ecology & ethics

Peter Whiting

Some 300,000 people marched in Australia on 20 September in support of the student-inspired demonstrations, three days before the UN Climate Summit in New York, indicating how many are acutely dissatisfied with the government’s minimalist response to climate change. They do not share the optimism that the Prime Minister claims is their ‘right’.

O n 20 and 27 September, up to 7.6 million people joined similar demonstrations worldwide. There is enormous public pressure on governments to address climate change, not just in economic aspects, but equally from the perspective of ecology and ethics. The Paris Agreement was not just about setting and achieving an emissions target, but also about efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5℃. To achieve this target, countries like Australia will need to rethink the ethical implications of their current efforts, and commit to ambitious targets and policy responses. It is worrying that not only is Australia pursuing very modest targets to 2030, but that it has not indicated the targets to which it may commit for the decades following 2030.

Catholic Social Ministry Conference

Delivering Catholic Social Teaching through community services & public advocacy

23 November 2019 9:30am to 5:30pm
Thomas Carr Centre 278 Victoria Parade East Melbourne

Conference chair Patrice Scales

Speakers 9:30am :

  • Bruce Duncan Social Policy Connections : Cardijn’s vision of Catholic Social Ministry & his importance today.
  • Greg Crafter chair National Catholic Education Commission : Lay formation through education & service.
  • Robyn Miller CEO MacKillop Family Services : The role of Catholic organisations in protecting & supporting the poor & vulnerable.
  • Christine Carolan National Executive Officer Australian Catholic Religious against Trafficking in Humans ACRATH : Social needs beyond traditional areas of health & social services.

Afternoon sessions 1:45-3:45 Parish Social Ministry.

Discussion 4-5:30pm, chaired by Patrice Scales : The priorities & promotion of Catholic Social Ministry.

  • Denis Fitzgerald recent Executive Director Catholic Social Services VIC : Current & potential parish initiatives in social ministry.
  • Elizabeth McFarlane National President of YCW : Engaging with people outside the parishes, especially by the YCW.
  • Sarah Moffatt Plenary Council Executive Committee member : The potential for the Plenary Council to promote Parish Social Ministry.

The good, the bad, & the ugly: the nations leading & failing on climate action

Bill Hare

It is almost five years since the landmark Paris deal was struck. Nearly 200 countries agreed to work towards limiting global warming to 1.5℃, beyond which the planet is expected to slide irreversibly towards devastating climate change impacts.

But few nations are on track to reach this goal. Right now, we’re heading to warming above 3℃ by 2100, and this will have catastrophic consequences for the planet.

Today, Australia’s emissions are at a seven-year high, and continue to rise. The government’s commitment to fossil fuels remains unwavering, from coal projects such as Adani’s proposed Carmichael mine in Queensland to huge new gas projects.

Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal, providing 29% of coal’s global trade, and last year also became the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas. Its exported fossil fuel emissions currently represent around 3.6% of global emissions.

Arrest the decline of aid, & reset its paradigm

Marc Purcell

Waiting for the Government to invest in our international development footprint and drive Australia’s international development program strategically is like waiting for a bus that never comes. This year sees the sixth successive Australian aid cut. The long-term decline adds up to a Government bereft of vision for development assistance, failing to meet its international commitments, and unable to foresee how Australians and their expertise can build cooperation with Asia and harness our place in the evolving world order. 

Australia’s international relationships – crucial for trade, peace, and stability – are being risked in favour of isolation and a retreat to our backyard. Last year, the OECD asked Australia to ‘shore-up development aid’. The Australian Government has ignored this call. 

Rising inequality in Australia isn’t about incomes: it’s almost all about housing

Brendan Coates & Carmela Chivers

Home ownership is increasingly benefiting the already well-off. Since 2003-04, increasing property values have contributed to the increased wealth of high-income households by more than 50%. Wealth for low-income households has grown by less than 10%.

In 1981, more than 60% of those aged 25-34 had a mortgage; by 2016, it was 45%. The trends are similar among older groups. In the same period, home ownership among the poorest 20% of households has fallen from 63% to 23%.

The big winners of the property boom have typically been older Australians lucky enough to buy a house before prices took off. Housing has thus compounded inequality between the young and old.

Bala ga Lili. How a remote Arnhem Land school’s approach could hold a key to reimagining the world together.

Dan Yore

For the past few years, I have had the great privilege of working with the Yolŋu of East Arnhem Land in their community-led school in Yirrkala. The experience has been nothing short of transformative, professionally and personally. More than that, I have come quickly to see sophisticated educational methodologies here, born of millennia of accumulated wisdom. I believe these hold keys to unlocking the 21st Century educational methods our global community so desperately seeks at the present time.

Making our economic system socially responsible

Gary Harkin

In August 2019, the US Business Roundtable, an important assembly of leading American business organisations, published The Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation, signed by 181 influential CEOs.

The underlying tone of The Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation was a radical departure from the past. It would represent apostasy for some capitalists, hard-nosed business people, and some politicians. Its opening paragraph stated:

‘Americans deserve an economy that allows each person to succeed through hard work and creativity and to lead a life of meaning and dignity. We believe the free-market system is the best means of generating good jobs, a strong and sustainable economy, innovation, a healthy environment, and economic opportunity for all.’

Pope Francis invites young researchers & entrepreneurs to a meeting in Assisi in March 2020.

Pope Francis has invited young economists, researchers, entrepreneurs, and change-makers under 35 years of age to an international event in Assisi on 26-28 March 2020 to discuss ideas for social and economic reform.

Taking part in the conference will be prominent economists like Jeffrey Sachs and Amartya Sen, experts in sustainable development, and business people. From the people who register, 500 will be selected to attend a pre-event scheduled for 24-25 March. Registrations close soon. See details.

SPC Videos

World religions: A force for war or global peace?

John D’Arcy May

The following YouTube videos show John D’Arcy May discussing how religiously-fuelled violence is afflicting many countries, just as important democracies are threatened by rising nationalist movements and populism. How can world religions work together to oppose the misuse of religion to justify violence? John D’Arcy May has drawn on half a century of debate and dialogue to discuss the ways in which world religions can help maintain human rights, overcome economic inequality, and prevent ecological destruction. In his new book, Pluralism & Peace: The Religions in Global Civil Society, May explores how the great traditions of Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam, along with the many religious traditions in the Pacific Islands, can forge societies of mutual respect and tolerance to advance the wellbeing of everyone.

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