Pope Francis and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar call for peace and climate action at Cop28

Religious leaders sign Call of Conscience document pledging to work together for peace and to protect planet

Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb call for peace and to save the planet in video messages at Cop28. In this file photo, they greet each other at a religious convention in Kazakhstan last year. Photo: Vatican Media
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Faith added a powerful voice to efforts to save the planet on day four of Cop28 when Pope Francis and Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, signed a declaration of support for climate action.

Both Pope Francis and Dr Al Tayeb signed the Call of Conscience declaration on Sunday which intends to draw in interfaith dialogue to introduce measures to combat climate change.

The Pope said the document reflected the intention of religious leaders to stand together in the interest of peace and to protect the planet.

“Today the world needs alliances that are not against someone but for the benefit of everyone,” he said in a video message.

Let us safeguard creation and protect our common home, live in peace and promote peace
Pope Francis

He spoke of the urgency for the world’s religions to set a good example by working together “not for own interests of those of particular groups but for the interests of our world”.

“Among these the most important right now are peace and climate,” he added.

The Pope deeply regretted not being at Cop28 due to ill health and called on religious representatives to show that change is possible by demonstrating respectful and sustainable lifestyles.

Calling for peace, he urged world leaders to “safeguard creation and protect our common home.”

The Grand Imam also joined in the plea for peace and urged an end to the violence in Gaza.

He appealed for a halt to “atrocious, criminal wars,” and warned that if these persisted the world would be left with “neither a viable environment nor a liveable climate for our children or future generations.”

Respect the environment

Dr Al Tayeb also cautioned that climate change was one of the most serious challenges facing humanity with a growing number of natural disasters.

“This threat is embodied in natural disasters including an unprecedented rise in temperature, sweeping floods, devastating wildfires, severe drought and extinction of numerous living species and the spread of epidemics and diseases,” he said.

Dr Tayeb said the teaching of the Quran embodied being mindful of the environment.

“The noble Quran abounds with verses that urge respect for the environment and its elements,” he said adding that “humans are responsible for the environment, just as they are responsible for themselves and for their fellow human beings.”

The document has been signed by several religious leaders during Cop28 and reaffirms their support to communities impacted by climate change.

The leaders have pledged to change their consumption patterns, promote sustainable choices and join their voices in the fight to conserve wildlife and protect biodiversity, support equality and the rights of indigenous people and vulnerable communities.

In an earlier message to Cop28 leaders, he compared the destruction of the environment to “an offence against God” while cautioning countries from putting self-interest before the needs of the planet.

“The destruction of the environment is an offence against God, a sin that is not only personal but structural, one that greatly endangers all human beings, especially the most vulnerable,” he said.

Updated: December 04, 2023, 3:10 AM