Religious leaders make joint climate appeal ahead of Cop26

Religious leaders climate appeal

Pope Francis and other religious leaders made a joint appeal for governments to commit to ambitious targets at the upcoming UN climate conference, COP26.

The “Faith and Science: Towards COP26” meeting brought together Christian leaders, including Pope Francis, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and representatives of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism and Jainism.

They shared how their faith traditions interpreted the emergency, many insisting religion and science must act together to save the planet.

“COP26 in Glasgow represents an urgent summons to provide effective responses to the unprecedented ecological crisis and the crisis of values that we are presently experiencing, and in this way to offer concrete hope to future generations,” the pope said.

For the religious leaders, care for the environment is a moral imperative to preserve the planet for future generations and to support communities most vulnerable to climate change.

The appeal urged all governments to adopt plans to achieve net-zero carbon emissions as soon as possible with wealthier countries taking the lead.

“We plead with the international community gathered at COP26 to take speedy, responsible, and shared action to safeguard, restore, and heal our wounded humanity and the home entrusted to our stewardship.”

Several participants stressed no nation could go it alone.

“If one nation sinks, we all sink,” said Rajwant Singh, a Sikh leader from the United States.

“Water is the father, air is the teacher, and Earth is our common mother. Just as we don’t dishonour our mother, father, and teacher – why would we dishonour these gifts from our creator?”

“I call on all young people, regardless of their religion, to be ready to fight against any action that damages the environment or increases the climate crisis,” said Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb of the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, Egypt.

“We have inherited a garden; we must not leave a desert to our children,” said the appeal signed by attendees, before handing it over to the head of the COP26 conference, Alok Sharma.

Bishop Frederick Shoo, president of the Lutheran Church of Tanzania, quoted Martin Luther in describing his vocation to plant trees on Mount Kilimanjaro that has earned him the nickname of the “tree bishop”.

“Even if I knew I would die tomorrow, I would plant a tree today,” Shoo said, paraphrasing the 16th-century Luther who broke away from the Catholic Church.

Sheikh Ahmed urged young Muslims and religious scholars to “carry out their religious duty” by taking responsibility for the crisis.

The Istanbul Patriarch Bartholomew called for continued dialogue as he signed the joint appeal alongside Patriarch Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church, who used his two-minute speech to call for repentance for all the damage already done.

“It shall be remembered that the current ecological situation has been caused, among other factors, by the desire of some to profit at the expense of others, as well as by the desire of unjust enrichment,” Hilarion said.

Francis strongly supports the goals of the 2015 UN Paris accord to reduce global warming. He told young people at the weekend that theirs was “perhaps the last generation” to save the planet.






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