Religious leaders including Francis to present joint call for COP26 climate summit
VATICAN CITY (RNS) – Pope Francis, along with other religious and scientific leaders, will present a joint statement at the Vatican on Monday to the president of the environmental summit of COP26, pledging to encourage the faithful to take care of creation and, in turn, urging governments to do their part to curb climate change.
âWe were very happy to be able to work with our colleagues from the Italian Embassy and the Holy See to bring together a large group of religious leaders ahead of the COP and reflect on the role of religious leaders in messaging our political leaders. on the importance of this meeting, âthe recently appointed British Ambassador to the Holy See, Christopher Trott, said in an interview with Vatican journalists on Friday 1 October.
The UK and Italy will chair the COP26 summit of world leaders in Glasgow, Scotland, November 1-12. The event is intended to build on the 2015 Paris Agreement and other United Nations environmental declarations to reduce carbon emissions and promote a global climate change framework.
Nearly 40 religious leaders, representing a wide range of religious organizations, from Jews to Christians to Buddhists, gathered to discuss climate change and its consequences over the past six months.
Pope Francis will personally deliver the appeal to the Vatican to the President-designate of COP26, the Honorable Alok Sharma and Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio.
The joint call is expected to urge political leaders to pledge to achieve net zero carbon emissions and limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5 Â° Celsius. Religious leaders will also pledge to promote climate awareness not only among decision-makers in their countries, but also among devotees in their communities, providing a powerful stage for environmental discussions at COP26.
âIt is important for all of us to recognize that a spiritual leader speaks in a certain way on behalf of his religious congregations,â Trott told a small group of Vatican reporters on Friday. While acknowledging the divisions that exist within religious groups, the ambassador said that âthis kind of message from a group of very, very respected people is going to have an impactâ on the discussions at COP26 and beyond.
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Since Pope Francis published his âgreen encyclicalâ Laudato Si in 2015, he has become a leading figure in promoting environmental protection and combating climate change. Francis recently sent a message encouraging youth activism gathered in Milan, Italy for the Youth4Action meeting to discuss new ideas for sustainability and the environment.
The Vatican also launched a Global Pact for Education in 2019 that hopes to promote environmental education and awareness in Catholic and non-Catholic schools and universities. Pope Francis showed his willingness to cooperate with other religious leaders to defend the environment when he launched a joint appeal to the UN on September 10, co-signed by Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby and Ecumenical Patriarch , Bartholomew I.
Cooperation between the different religious leaders was a key objective in the preparation of the joint appeal that will be presented on Monday. âI was very struck in the discussions by the commonalities between these different religious leaders, in their approach and the way they view our responsibility for the planet,â said Trott.
âWhether or not this is a creation story, as you will find in the Abrahamic religions, there is an absolute sense that we do not own this planet. It is not for us to do with it what we wish, but rather we are temporary tenants of this planet, and we are required to pass this planet on to future generations in a state of well-being, âhe said. -he adds.
The influence of religious leaders on their faith communities has increasingly attracted the attention of secular governments. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis has used his moral chair to promote immunization among 1.2 billion Catholics around the world, and political actors are hoping the same influence can be harnessed again to raise awareness of the environment.
“Our hope is that at the COP in Glasgow, the appeal that comes out on Monday will be heeded by world leaders as they sit down and negotiate the outcome of the deal,” Trott said.
Pope Francis is expected to attend the COP26 summit, where he will likely deliver a speech, although the Vatican has yet to confirm the papal trip. While the Vatican has already sent representatives to COP summits, it would be the first time that a pope has personally attended such a gathering.
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