The Vatican will unite faith and science leaders later this year to make an urgent and joint appeal to world leaders ahead of the 26th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, scheduled for November in Glasgow.On 4 October, the final day of the ecumenical Season of Creation, the Vatican will host “Faith and Science Towards COP26,” a conference with about 40 faith leaders and 10 scientists from across the globe.
Together, the religious leaders and scientists will encourage world governments to increase their commitments to the goals of the 2015 Paris agreement and call on all people to raise their voices ahead of the pivotal UN summit.
“We hope religious leaders will… raise the ambitions of our political leaders and our statesmen and women… to be able to take grasp of the nettle, to see the issues, and to make courageous decisions,” said Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States.
“Undoubtedly, COP26 will be a key moment, perhaps a key moment in the history of humanity. There will be difficult choices to be made, and we hope, with God’s grace, that we will have the courage to make those choices and to move forward on these issues, which will determine what life will be like on our planet in the coming decades and centuries.”
At COP26, countries must announce their plans to meet the goals of the historic 2015 Paris agreement, in which nearly every country agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius, while aiming for 1.5 degrees Celsius, above pre-industrial levels this century.
Led by Pope Francis’ and his ground-breaking Laudato Si’ encyclical, which was released the same year, Catholics were instrumental in advocating for such an accord six years ago.
In a press conference Thursday, Archbishop Gallagher noted the unique role faith leaders and communities can and have played in advocating for global action against the climate emergency.
“There has been an enormous response from the Catholic community worldwide,” he said.
He added that as the crises pile up – biodiversity, climate, migration, COVID-19 pandemic – it’s crucial that all countries work together on the climate crisis, a problem without borders.
Catholics also are invited to sign the “Healthy Planet, Healthy People” petition, which further calls on world leaders to take bold action later this year.
“Inevitably the Pope has told us that we have to renegotiate our relationships with nature, and we have to do that obviously in a spiritual fraternity, with respect for justice, and in faithfulness to all others,” Archbishop Gallagher said.
“This is a moment of great urgency in which we all must resume responsibility for what is happening in our world today. in fact, we’re invited to sort of rethink the world in which we live, our lifestyles, and to embrace that spirit… the ecological conversion.”
Pope Francis is expected to attend the summit, which is also being promoted by the United Kingdom and Italy.