Sydney, Australia

Christians worried about Australia’s carbon emissions have used more than 13,000 metres of wool to knit hundreds of scarves to lobby politicians to take urgent action on climate change.

More than 300 scarves, using cool blues through to deep reds to depict the world’s rising temperatures in the past century, have been handed to the nation’s elected representatives.

Australia Common Grace scarves

Common Grace Knit for Climate Action scarves. PICTURE: Jane Kelly

Each of the 101 stripes represents a year with the different colours indicating the average global temperature for that year.

Christian organisation Common Grace’s Knit for Climate Action initiative has asked MPs and senators to wear the scarves in Question Time on 21st October, the last joint sitting day for federal parliament before November’s COP26 global conference on climate action in Scotland. Common Grace CEO Brooke Prentis said by wearing the scarves, Australia’s federal politicians would be showing support across the political spectrum for the nation to be more ambitious in taking action on climate change in the lead up to COP26.

Prentis said people want to see “urgent action now” on the issue and many politicians have already committed to wearing their scarves in parliament.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Friday that he would be attending UN COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

Prentis said attendance in Glasgow should be about talking for the whole nation.

“For us as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, all the social, political, economical and environmental [effects] are all in harmony with each other; one is not prioritised over the other,” she said. 

"Sadly the economy is often prioritised over the environment - we don’t have to do that. They can be in harmony and in balance with each other, but if we don’t take care of our world - and that’s the other important thing that Aboriginal peoples bring: it’s about the future generations - we won’t have a world if we keep going the way we are going.”

Part of the call with the scarves was to encourage Australia’s elected representatives to listen to and be led by First Nations people and those of neighbouring Pacific island nations, especially Torres Strait Islanders who had spent a decade trying to raise awareness of rising seas. Prentis said elders from other parts of Australia had also raised areas of concern, including searing temperatures in central Australia, the late arrival of Mutton Birds in Tasmania and the changed behavioural and hunting patterns of seals in South Australia as examples of how climate change is affecting the nation.

The Knit for Climate Action project was inspired by the Cambridge Federation of Women’s Institute’s 100 Years Climate Scarf and uses meteorologist Dr Mick Pope’s temperature data from 1919 to 2019.

The initiative will be an ongoing annual event, centred around the winter solstice of 21st June.