What do nine Engadine Uniting Church women and their 10 scarves have to do with the Australian Parliament in Canberra? Read on…
The Winter solstice (21 June 2021) saw over 30 people of faith from across Australia travel to Canberra to present to the Australian Parliament a message of concern about the need for action against climate change. Loraine Holley from Engadine Uniting Church was one of those who went with the group as a knitter, organised by Common Grace, to present knitted scarves which beautifully depict the scientific data from NASA, of average global temperature from 1919 to 2019 in colours, arranged by Dr Mick Pope, Meteorologist, from blues (coldest) to reds (hottest) to members of Parliament.
Common Grace’s Knit for Climate Action campaign focuses on 101 years of global warming, with knitters putting in countless hours to create these scarves clearly showcasing the rapid rise in temperature over the last 25 years to the alarming levels we are experiencing today. The presentation of scarves to the country’s leaders on the occasion of the winter solstice marks the beginning of a campaign which will see scarves presented to all sitting members by the end of September 2021.
Commencing on the lawns of Parliament House under the largest pair of knitting needles in the world at 5.5metres while a number of knitters continued to knit scarves, Brooke Prentis, CEO of Common Grace, opened proceedings with an acknowledgment of country. Climate scientist Emeritus Professor Will Steffan from ANU gave a sobering account of what will happen if global temperature tipping points are reached within the next 10 years. Politicians, Zali Steggall (Independent), Adam Bandt (Greens) and Alicia Payne (Labor) spoke about their concerns for urgent political action by the Australian Government to develop clear, timely and doable policies so Australia can radically reduce CO2 emissions and use of fossil fuels and to care for transition jobs for workers in the fossil fuel industry.
Zali Steggall gave clear reasons for the need for political action and her reason for introducing her private members bill last year. Adam Bandt said “Rising global temperatures are a matter of fact and common sense’ and it is ‘not a political issue but an issue of our common survival’ while Alicia Payne (Labor Member for Canberra) reminded us that we are stewards of the land holding in custody for future generations. She asked us if we as a nation are prepared to live with the consequences of a 2o C temperature rise which will result in our neighbours in the Pacific to lose their islands under water. The event concluded with singing Amazing Grace accompanied by Luke Vassella. Other politicians, Tanya Pliberseck (Labor), Trent Zimmerman (Liberal), Sarah Hanson-Young (Greens), Janet Rice (Greens), Jordon Steele-John (Greens), also attended the event which can be viewed here.
After the formal proceedings on the lawn, small groups of Common Grace members met with many politicians in their offices in Parliament House to gift a scarf and to discuss positive actions and ways forward to reduce emissions, to support workers in transition industries, to listen to first nations peoples with their stories of changes in Country and to develop a Climate plan.
We at Engadine Uniting Church, a Partner Church with Common Grace, have been advocating for action on Climate change for many years and this initiative by Common Grace has enabled our congregation to be actively involved in a gentle yet powerful campaign to move our government for real and courageous action on Climate action. We now have 9 members (one who has sadly passed away) who have knitted 10 scarves to-date with more on the way. While we were not all able to travel to Canberra to take part in the presentation we were encouraged to demonstrate our support for the campaign and its important message via social media.
During the Church service on Sunday 21st June, service leader, Jan Cooper wore a climate scarf in solidarity with the Canberra event and 5 of our knitters are posed in solidarity with the fruits of their labour at the church on Sunday 20 June. Even our sign is also proudly wearing a scarf/banner in the temperature colours.
The day in Canberra marked the culmination of hours of work done by members of congregations and individuals from many different denominations under the Common Grace umbrella. In the months to come, it is aimed to gift every Federal Member of Parliament and Senator with a scarf and a request to wear it in Parliament on the 21st October, which is the last day of sitting of both houses of parliament before the UN Climate Change Conference in November.
by Loraine Holley and Michael Bleasdale