Scientists and faith leaders sign joint appeal for climate action

Alok Sharma

 VATICAN CITY -Leaders representing the world’s major religions joined scientists on Monday to call on the international community to raise their ambition and step up their climate action ahead of COP26 running Oct. 31 to Nov. 12 in Glasgow. Almost 40 faith leaders signed a joint appeal, which was presented by Pope Francis to COP26 President-Designate, Alok Sharma, and the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Luigi Di Maio.

 Signatories include high-profile representatives from across the Christian denominations, both Sunni and Shi’a Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism and Jainism – representing a broad range of religious leaders.

 The appeal calls for the world to achieve net-zero carbon emissions as soon as possible and to limit the global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. It indicates that wealthier nations have the greatest responsibility and it presses them to lead the way, both stepping up their climate action at home and financially supporting vulnerable countries to adapt to and address climate change.

 Moreover, the appeal urges governments to strengthen their international cooperation, to transition to clean energy, sustainable land use practices, environmentally-friendly food systems and responsible financing.

 The document also encourages religious leaders to use their position to educate and influence members of their traditions and actively participate in the public debate on environmental issues.

 With the window narrowing to restore the planet, the faith leaders and scientists implored the international community to move with haste, saying, “Future generations will never forgive us if we miss the opportunity to protect our common home. We have inherited a garden: we must not leave a desert to our children.”

 The appeal follows months of dialogue in which the religious leaders and scientists

agreed on a common moral duty to tackle climate change.

The diversity of participants makes this a highly significant moment with the potential to have a powerful impact not only at COP26 but also on the estimated 84 per cent of the world’s population who identify with a faith.

 COP26 President-Designate, Alok Sharma, said: “I am honoured to receive this historic joint

appeal as we press for progress towards limiting global temperature rises to 1.5C at COP26 in just a few weeks’ time. We must all hear the voices of those most affected by climate change and I hope people of faith will continue to be a key part of this dialogue as we work together to drive forward climate action.”