Religious leaders including Pope Francis and the world’s top Sunni Islam cleric issued a plea on Monday for a forthcoming UN climate conference to act boldly against global warming.
“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,” they said.
The appeal was presented at the Faith and Science: Towards COP26 conference which the Vatican hosted in Rome ahead of the landmark two-week COP26 summit that kicks off on October 31 in Glasgow, Scotland.
“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,” it added.
Climate change experts including Hoesung Lee, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), also took part in the Vatican conference and endorsed the appeal.
In a written note to participants, the pope said: “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.”
The pope largely left the podium to other guests to make speeches, including the grand imam of the Al-Azhar mosque and university Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, and Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, the spiritual leader of Orthodox Christians.
Bartholomew called the appeal he co-signed “a powerful symbolic gesture” stemming from “the dialogue between all religions of the world, united in their commitment to preserving the beauty and integrity of God’s creation”.
Last month, Francis, Bartholomew and Anglican leader Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby — who also attended Monday’s conference — issued another plea that called “on everyone, whatever their belief or worldview, to endeavour to listen to the cry of the Earth”.
Less than one month from the COP26 climate summit, world leaders are under unprecedented pressure to decarbonise their economies and chart humanity’s path away from catastrophic global warming.
But with the pandemic still raging in parts of the globe and with countries already battered by climate-driven calamities pleading for help, the negotiations in Glasgow are likely to be fraught.