Christian representatives have joined with other religious leaders in writing an open letter to politicians and would-be MPs ahead of the upcoming federal election, asking for them to prioritise action on climate change.

An ARRCC poster

The signatories, who include Rev Professor Stephen Pickard, executive director of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, and Jacqui Redmond, the director of Catholic Earthcare Australia, say they want to draw attention to the "wake-up call" the degradation of the Great Barrier Reef provides, saying it is with "great sadness that we witness the irretrievable loss of parts of the reef, principally due to global warming".

"So far, the election debates have failed to assign due priority to global warning," they write. "While Labor's policies are more ambitious in some areas, Labor remains supportive of subsidies and assistance to fossil fuel companies. Neither of the major parties currently plan to wind back coal and gas mining."

The signatories, who also include Julian Robertson, presiding clerk of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) Australia as well as representatives of the Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim faiths, urge "all those holding public office to hold in proper focus our responsibilities as signatories to the Paris Agreement".

"There can be no more postponement of the transition to a low carbon economy," they write. "Now is the time to act."

The letter, which is an initiative of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, was released on Thursday to mark the first anniversary of the release of Pope Francis' environmental encyclical, Laudato Si' which, although dated 24th May last year wasn't publicly released until mid-June.

In a statement accompanying its release, Bishop Pickard said neither of the two major parties were taking the need to mitigate climate disruption seriously enough.

"The impacts of it are being felt more painfully each year and polls show there is strong electoral support for action. We are left to conclude that the influence of the fossil fuel lobby is a major impediment to the necessary policy changes."

Bishop Pickard called for a moratorium on any new coal, oil or gas mining in Australia and any expansions of existing mines.

To see the letter, head to