© Reuters File Photo: Pope Francis picks up waves as he arrives at the Vatican’s weekly general audience for the sixth time, September 2, 2021. Reuters / Remo Casili
By Philip Pulela
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis and other religious leaders made a joint appeal next month for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP2) to save the planet from an “unprecedented environmental crisis”.
“Faith and Science: Towards COP 2” The meeting was attended by Christian leaders including Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury and Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, as well as representatives of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Confucianism, Taoism.
“In Glasgow, COP26 represents an unprecedented environmental crisis and the value crisis we are currently facing, and thus an effective call to provide concrete hope for future generations,” Pope said.
“We want to go with it with our commitment and our spiritual intimacy,” he said in a speech given to participants rather than reading it to give other leaders more time to speak.
The joint appeal by religious leaders, who described climate change as a “grave threat”, was handed over to Italian Foreign Minister Luigi de Maio and Britain’s Alok Sharma, president of COP26 in Glasgow.
“The climate crisis is great and it made us,” Sharma told them.
Welby, the spiritual leader of Anglicans around the world, called for a “global financial architecture that repents of its past sins”, including changes to tax rules to encourage green activity.
War of creation ‘
“We’ve declared war on creation for the last 100 years … Our war on climate affects the poorest of us all,” Welby said.
The petition calls on all governments to limit the rise in average global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to adopt a plan to achieve net-zero carbon emissions as soon as possible.
It says rich countries must take the lead in reducing their own emissions and financing poor countries in reducing emissions.
“We urge the international community to take swift, responsible and shared action to protect, restore and heal our wounded humanity and our transferred home,” the meeting began.
Several leaders insisted that no nation could go it alone.
“If a nation sinks, we all drown,” said Rajwant Singh, a Sikh leader in the United States, who sang a poem for the participants.
In his written speech, Francis said that cultural and religious differences should be seen as strengths, not weaknesses, in protecting the environment.
“Each of us has its own religious beliefs and spiritual traditions, but no cultural, political or social boundaries or barriers prevent us from standing together,” he said.
Vatican Foreign Minister Archbishop Paul Gallagher told Reuters on Sunday he hoped Monday’s meeting in Glasgow could “raise ambitions” about what could be achieved.
The bishop of Scotland said in July that the pope would attend the inauguration of COP 2 of Health Permit. A decision is expected in the next few days.
Francis, 84, strongly supports the goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement to reduce global warming. He told young people over the weekend that their “probably the last generation” was there to save the planet.
U.S. President Joe Biden returned the United States to the Paris Agreement after the withdrawal of his predecessor, Donald Trump. Biden and the pope are due to meet at the Vatican in late October.