September 21, 2021
Faith leaders from across the UK have signed a declaration urging governments to take action on climate change ahead of the COP26 United Nations conference, taking place in Glasgow from 31 October – 12 November 2021.
Our faith communities are united in caring for human life and the natural world. We share a belief in a hopeful future, as well as an obligation to be responsible in caring for our common home, the Earth.
We recognise the opportunities that COP26 brings in addressing the urgent need for action in limiting the effects of climate change and the critical importance of decisions made in this conference to take forward the agreement made in Paris in 2015.
People have exploited the planet, causing climate change. We recognise that the burden of loss and damage falls most heavily on people living in poverty, especially women and children. We acknowledge the commitments made through the Lambeth Declaration in 2015. Now, because of the gravity of our situation, the impact of climate change around the world, and the inequality of its effects we seek to strengthen those commitments.
We commit to respond to this challenge by:
- Reflecting deeply in prayer, meditation and worship to discern how to care for the earth and each other, and to encourage our respective communities to do the same.
- Making transformational change in our own lives and in the lives of our communities through individual and collective action.
- Being advocates for justice by calling on governments, businesses and others who exercise power and influence to put into effect the Paris agreement; to make the transition to a just and green economy a priority; and to commit to science-based targets that are aligned with a healthy, resilient, zero emissions future.
We remind governments of their commitments made in Paris in 2015 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, and of Article 17 of the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights to protect the environment, the biosphere and biodiversity. We call upon them to take the urgent action needed to avert the loss, damage, and forced migration threatened by climate change.
We look to governments to work together and with others to create a positive vision for 2050 where addressing climate change is not just an opportunity to stop burning fossil fuels, but also: to achieve cleaner air and water; to reduce food wastage; to ensure a just and equitable sharing of the earth’s resources; and to protect the habitats we share with all other life on whose health we also depend.
Across our doctrinal and political differences, we know that we must change our ways to ensure a quality of life which all can share, and we need to provide hope for people of all ages, everywhere, including future generations. To offer hope in the world we need to have confidence that those in power understand the vital role they have to play at the Glasgow COP26.
Our collective energy and prayers will be with those working for a successful outcome.
Those signing from the UK churches include:
- Archbishop Angaelos, Archbishop of London, The Coptic Orthodox Church.
- The Rt Revd John Arnold, Bishop of Salford, and lead Bishop for the Environment, Catholic Church in England and Wales.
- Revd Clare Downing and Mr Peter Pay, Moderators of General Assembly, United Reformed Church.
- Revd. Lynn Green, General Secretary, The Baptist Union of Great Britain.
- Rev Sonia Hicks, President of the Methodist Church and Barbara Easton, Vice-President of the Methodist Church.
- Rt Rev Andy John, Bishop of Bangor and Senior Bishop in the Church in Wales.
- Juliet Prager, Deputy Recording Clerk, Quakers in Britain.
- Rt Revd Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich and lead Bishop on the Environment, Church of England.
- The Rt Hon Lord Jim Wallace of Tankerness, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
- Elizabeth Allen, Clerk, General Meeting for Scotland, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).
- Lt-Col Carol Bailey, Secretary for Scotland, Salvation Army.
- Revd David Coleman, Minister of the United Reformed Church and Chaplain to Eco-Congregation Scotland.
- Rev Bonnie Evans Hills, convener Scottish Episcopal Church Interfaith Relations Committee.
- Revd Dr Martin Johnstone, Glasgow Churches Together COP26 Ambassador.
- Bishop Brian McGee, Bishop of Argyll and the Isles, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Interreligious dialogue.
- Rev Dr David Miller, Moderator, United Free Church of Scotland.
- The Revd Mark Slaney, Chair Methodist Church Scotland.
- Sr. Isabel Smyth, Sisters of Notre Dame & Secretary to the Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Inter-religious Dialogue.
- Most Rev Mark Strange, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church.
- Revd Paul Whittle, Moderator of The United Reformed Church National Synod of Scotland.
- Rev. George Whyte, Principal Clerk to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
The full list, including leaders from other faiths, and text of the declaration, is available as a poster from the Joint Public Issues team.
Baptist Union of Great Britain
Church of England
Church of Scotland
The Church of Scotland has also published a video about the declaration on YouTube.