Church backs multifaith COP26 call to ensure ‘a just and sustainable future’

The Church of Scotland is supporting a call for the UK Government to fulfil its promise to combat climate change, made at last year's COP26 climate conference.

Representatives from across Scotland's faith and belief communities have written to UK Government minister and COP26 president Alok Sharma asking for a meeting to discuss what progress has been made since COP26, the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, was held in Glasgow last November.

The letter is signed by faith organisations including the Scottish Religious Leaders' Forum, Christian Aid, the Muslim Council of Scotland, EcoSikh UK, Eco-Congregation Scotland, the United Reformed Church and Brahma Kumaris, as well as the Church of Scotland.

Church of Scotland members across the country raised their concerns about climate change in the run up to COP26.

The letter has been released in response to increasing concerns among faith groups that international developments since COP26 have diverted attention from the commitments made under the Glasgow Pact to prevent global temperatures increasing by more than 1.5C.

Church of Scotland climate justice officer Paul Williams said: "The integrity of Creation hangs in the balance as climate change already threatens the safety and security of millions of people. Honouring the promises of CoP26 is an essential way to pursue justice for those already suffering from the effects of climate change and give future generations the dream of a just and sustainable future"

Religious leaders from across Scotland's faith communities raise their concerns at COP26.

A fragile win

COP26 was attended by 120 leaders from around the world including US President Joe Biden, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, German chancellor Angela Merkel, French president Emmanuel Macron, Canada's Justin Trudeau and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as well as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Scotland's faith communities also took an active part in COP26, hosting a number of interfaith events over the course of the conference and opening up their buildings for the use of delegates.

However, Mr Sharma described the agreements made at the conference as a "fragile win", adding: "Unless we honour the promises made - to turn the commitments in the Glasgow Climate Pact into action - they will wither on the vine."

Dr Maureen Sier, director of Interfaith Scotland, which chaired the faith leaders working group which developed the letter, warned: "The fragile win achieved at COP26 is at grave risk.

"It is essential that all governments commit to actioning the Glasgow Pact and work together, with others, to ensure a future for all."

The signatories to the letter, which is also being copied to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, are calling on Mr Sharma to ensure there is no new oil and gas exploration, as recommended by The International Energy Agency, and to build sustainable economies powered by renewable energy.

The letter also asks for efforts to ensure no one lives in fuel poverty, whether in the UK or overseas.