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UK faith leaders call for action against climate change ahead of COP26

Scottish and UK religious leaders are calling on governments to take transformational climate action at the upcoming 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow.

By Lisa Zengarini

During Climate Fringe Week, a virtual event taking place in Scotland from 18 to 26 September ahead of COP26, over 50 faith leaders signed a joint declaration urging those in power to take forward the Paris Agreement.

The Agreement was adopted at COP21 in 2015 by the 196 attending parties, committing them to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Urgent action needed to avert threat of climate change

Reminding governments of their commitments and of Article 17 of the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights to protect the environment, the biosphere and biodiversity, signed in 2005, the “Glasgow Multi-Faith Declaration” calls upon them to take the “urgent action needed to avert the loss, damage, and forced migration threatened by climate change.”

The signatories point out that “the burden of loss and damage falls most heavily on people living in poverty, especially women and children.”

Working to create a positive vision for 2050

They therefore ask governments “to work together and with others to create a positive vision for 2050."

“Addressing climate change," say the religious leaders, "is not just an opportunity to stop burning fossil fuels, but also: to achieve cleaner air and water; to reduce food wastage; to ensure a just and equitable sharing of the earth’s resources; and to protect the habitats we share with all other life on whose health we also depend.”

Commitment to advocate for justice

On their part, the UK faith leaders reiterate their commitment to respond to this challenge by reflecting deeply in prayer “to discern how to care for the earth and each other.”

This care, they say, includes making “transformational change” in their own lives and in the lives of their communities, being “advocates for justice” and calling on those who exercise power and influence “to make the transition to a just and green economy a priority and to commit to science-based targets that are aligned with a healthy, resilient, zero-emissions future”.

Providing hope for the future

“Across our doctrinal and political differences, we know that we must change our ways to ensure a quality of life which all can share, and we need to provide hope for people of all ages, everywhere, including future generations,” the religious leaders add, emphasizing the need for those in power to "understand the vital role they have to play at the Glasgow COP26."

"Our collective energy and prayers will be with those working for a successful outcome," concludes the Declaration.

Signatories of the Glasgow Declaration include Bishop Brian McGee, President of the Catholic Scottish Bishops’ Committee for Interreligious dialogue, and Bishop John Arnold, lead on the Environment for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW).

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21 September 2021, 12:31