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COP26 is vital, multifaith environment declaration tells world leaders

20 September 2021

Alamy

The River Clyde in Glasgow, taken from a drone image showing part of the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (right), on 1 September

The River Clyde in Glasgow, taken from a drone image showing part of the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (right), on 1 September

GOVERNMENTS must take urgent action at the forthcoming COP26 climate summit “to avert the loss, damage, and forced migration threatened by climate change”, a new declaration signed by religious leaders in the UK says.

The Glasgow Multi-Faith Declaration for COP26, released on Monday, says: “We remind governments of their commitments made in Paris in 2015 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, and of Article 17 of the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights to protect the environment, the biosphere and biodiversity. We call upon them to take the urgent action needed to avert the loss, damage, and forced migration threatened by climate change.

The declaration is signed by 52 faith leaders from Scotland and across the rest of the UK. Anglican signatories include the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Most Revd Mark Strange; the Bishop of Bangor and senior bishop in the Church in Wales, the Rt Revd Andy John; and the Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, who is the C of E’s lead bishop on the environment.

The summit is due to take place in November in the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) in Glasgow. Some campaigners have called for it to be delayed until the spring of 2022 (News, 10 September).

The declaration continues: “We look to governments to work together and with others to create a positive vision for 2050 where addressing climate change 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.”

The declaration acknowledges that religious communities themselves “must change our ways”, but says: “To offer hope in the world we need to have confidence that those in power understand the vital role they have to play at the Glasgow COP26.”

Bishop Usher said on Monday: “As a world community we need to come together and keep the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees. Glasgow is a kairos moment for the future of this planet. That’s why the voices of faith communities are so important.

“We are drawing on the wells of wisdom within our traditions to encourage the leaders of the world to take the bold, prophetic, steps we all need to take.”

Earlier this month, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Pope Francis, and the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew, released a joint message which called on people to make “meaningful sacrifices for the sake of the earth which God has given us” (News, 10 September).

Read the full text of the declaration here.

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