Religious leaders make Cop26 plea not to leave 'a desert' to children

Islamic, Christian, Jewish and other faith leaders call for new economic system that promotes self-sufficiency

Religious figures have urged world leaders to agree on ambitious climate action at Cop26 and ensure “a desert” is not left to younger generations.

In a joint appeal from Islamic, Christian, Jewish and other religious leaders, they said there needed to be a “new kind of economics” that is ecologically friendly, and “promotes the virtue of sufficiency and condemns the wickedness of excess”.

The message was signed at a ceremony in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican and handed over to Cop26 president Alok Sharma. The current Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, was among those in attendance.

The UN climate summit is set to take place in Glasgow, Scotland later this month.

“We have inherited a garden; we must not leave a desert to our children,” the appeal read.

The Glasgow summit aims to secure more ambitious commitments to limit global warming to well below 2°C with a goal of keeping it to 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels. The religious leaders said it was important that governments adopted a trajectory that hit the latter target.

They also urged leaders to protect indigenous peoples and local communities, who were described as “caretakers of the earth for millennia”.

"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, and in this way to offer concrete hope to future generations," Pope Francis said.

"We want to accompany it with our commitment and our spiritual closeness.”

The pontiff said "each of us has his or her religious beliefs and spiritual traditions, but no cultural, political or social borders or barriers prevent us from standing together”.

The leader of the Catholic Church, who has repeatedly called for climate action, is expected to attend Cop26 although the Vatican has not yet confirmed this.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby called for a "a pilgrimage to a clean economy, which decreases carbon emissions and increases renewable energy development and use".

"We have in the last 100 years declared war on the creation," he said, adding there must be a "dramatic and rapid change in taxation and trade rules" in favour of a more sustainable economic model.

"The world has just enough time to get this right," he insisted.

The appeal by the religious figures insisted that wealthier countries must take the lead in reducing their own emissions and in financing poorer nations' emission reductions.

“We appeal to governments to raise their ambitions and their international co-operation to: favour a transition to clean energy; adopt sustainable land use practices including preventing deforestation, restoring forests and conserving biodiversity; transform food systems to become environmentally friendly and respectful of local cultures; end hunger; and to promote sustainable lifestyles and patterns of consumption and production,” they said.

Updated: October 5th 2021, 11:55 AM