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Faith and Science: Towards COP26

A No Brainer

Alison Hilliard, Programme Director
Alison Hilliard
Programme Director,
Wilton Park

“Engaging the world’s faiths in the fight against climate change is a no brainer” according to Archbishop Gallagher, the Secretary for Relations with States at the Holy See. He was speaking at a press conference at the Vatican announcing that faith leaders would meet in the Vatican on 4 October to call for political leaders to demonstrate ambition in tackling climate change at COP26 in Glasgow in November.

The faith leaders have been preparing the 4 October event with a series of monthly virtual meetings which I’m delighted to have facilitated for the British and Italian Embassies to the Holy See together with the Holy See itself. It’s been a privilege hearing the views of those involved – 40 faith leaders from the major faiths worldwide alongside 10 eminent climate scientists. And they’ve been speaking with a united voice. Climate change, they say, is an act of self-destruction. Tackling it and caring for our common home is a moral and ethical issue with those set to suffer the most the least responsible for global temperature rises.

The faith leaders are in no doubt that they and their faithful have a role to play- after all, 84 % of the world’s population are affiliated to a religion. But everyone, they say, must now work together and take urgent action. This is the moment of opportunity with the pandemic forcing us to look at how we’ve been living and how we are all interconnected and interdependent.

And these are not just words. Faith leaders are ready to step up too, with Pope Francis spearheading the call to renegotiate our relationship with nature and show how faiths can lead by example, greening their own buildings, lands and assets and encouraging simpler, more sustainable lifestyles.

Alok Sharma, the COP26 President, recently asked the faith leaders to make their message to politicians as ambitious as possible. Preparing a call for a moral revolution, for radical change and for us all to rethink the world in which we live, answers that challenge. But, as Archbishop Gallagher said this week, COP26 is a key moment in the history of humanity. He hopes that political leaders in Glasgow will play their part, match that ambition and make bold decisions that will determine what our life will be like in the coming century.

To read the official press release click here