World religious leaders point fingers at richer nations to resolve climate crisis

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THE Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury, along with religious leaders and scientists around the world, called on richer nations to cut emissions and provide more climate finance to help vulnerable countries adapt to the impacts of the climate crisis.

Archbishop Welby was among 33 world religious leaders who made the appeal in a special meeting at the Vatican on Monday morning. In addition to representatives of different faiths, participants included the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew; the Acting General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Reverend Dr Ioan Sauca; and the secretary general of the World Evangelical Alliance, Bishop Thomas Schirrmacher. The statement was received at the meeting by the President of COP26, Alok Sharma.

Their appeal, formed after months of dialogue with some of the world’s top scientists, focuses on the wealthiest countries, which have contributed the most to climate change. “We appeal to the nations that have the greatest responsibility and the current capacity to provide substantial financial support to vulnerable countries and agree on new goals to enable them to become climate resilient, adapt and tackle climate change. . The rights of indigenous peoples and local communities must be given special attention.

Nations are called on to do more at the COP26 climate summit to be held in Glasgow in November: “Future generations will never forgive us if we miss the opportunity to protect our common home. We inherited a garden: we must not leave a desert to our children. Scientists have warned us that there may only be a decade left to restore the planet.

“We implore the international community, gathered at COP26, to take swift, responsible and shared action to safeguard, restore and heal our wounded humanity and the home entrusted to our stewardship. We call on everyone to join us on this common journey.

In addition to calling governments to action, religious leaders pledged to do more to educate and influence believers and to actively participate in public debate on environmental issues.

They said: “Followers of religious traditions have a crucial role to play in addressing the crisis in our common home. We are committed to taking much more serious action. Young people demand that we listen to scientific knowledge and that we, their elders, do much more. “

Responding to the announcement, Cafod CEO Christine Allen said: “As host of this year’s COP, the Prime Minister has a unique responsibility to heed this cry of global religious leaders to safeguard, restore and heal our wounded humanity. and lead by example on the international stage. . .

“This is a renewed moral call, joining other voices calling for action, to reset our priorities. They recognized that the climate crisis cuts across all parts of life and society; it is time for our politicians to do the same.

The intervention of religious leaders puts pressure on the UK government, which is leading the Glasgow talks, to ensure the summit makes more progress than previous meetings, particularly on reducing emissions and providing climate finance to the poorest countries.

Receiving the documents, Mr Sharma said: “I am honored to receive this historic joint appeal as we insist that progress be made to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 ° C at COP26. in just a few weeks. We all need to hear the voices of those most affected by climate change and I hope people of faith continue to be a key part of this dialogue as we work together to advance climate action.

Coinciding with the Vatican’s call, a new initiative was launched on Monday, which means faith groups will publicly commit to using their assets, investments and influence to mitigate climate change and create a better world.

The Faith Plans for People and Planet program was organized by the charity FaithInvest and the Beliefs and Values ​​program of WWF.

FaithInvest CEO Dr Martin Palmer said: “Denominations are key players on the planet. Globally, denominations run two-thirds of schools, provide important health services – the Catholic Church alone manages one-quarter of the world’s health care – and manage eight percent of the earth’s living space. of the planet, including five percent of commercial forests.

“Faith communities already play a crucial role in inspiring and initiating change within and beyond their communities to help ensure a stable future for all. And now these communities, which represent all of the world’s major religious traditions, are committed to stepping up their efforts and taking practical but bold environmental steps for change.

“Given the size of their assets and influence, religions alone, through their actions, could make the crucial difference in the world’s efforts to stop irreversible climate change and reverse environmental destruction. “

Some of the actions proposed by faith groups include disengagement from fossil fuels; establish community forests; plant millions of trees; improving the energy efficiency of buildings; adopt renewable energies; and encourage their members to adopt greener lifestyles, including greener transport for pilgrimages.

Mr. Sharma also received a letter from young people Methodists of the whole world. The Climate Justice for All campaign published an open letter calling for bold and ambitious action from the President of COP26.

The letter says: “Young people were pioneers in the climate movement, and as a Church we have been guided by their prophetic voice as we responded to the climate crisis. Our young people have consistently expressed their fears for the planet and called on those in power to do more to protect their future. We urge you to keep these fears close to your heart as you lead COP26.

“We ask you to test the impact of the resolutions you take on future generations. Failure to do so would be a betrayal of the young people whose voices have been so active in leading the climate movement, and who risk suffering the heaviest consequences of our actions in the years to come. “

Earlier this year, the Methodist Church divested from fossil fuels by selling its £ 21million in Shell (News, May 21).

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