Birmingham Faith leaders speak out ahead of COP26

Footsteps is very pleased that during Great Big Green Week the Birmingham Faith Leaders Group has made a public statement on the powerful responsibility of faith communities to take action:

A Statement on Climate Change as the COP26 Summit approaches

24th September 2021.

Climate change is an existential threat that requires action from all people of faith.  Care for the planet is an ethical responsibility and embedded in the scriptures of all faiths and religions.

Faith provides a moral compass at this critical juncture.  It teaches us about the wonder, beauty and uniqueness of God’s world and about the interconnectedness and interdependence of all creation.  It gives us a sense of moral duty to care for the world that has been entrusted to us. Through the teachings of our faith, we can make a critical contribution to taking collective responsibility to care for the earth and its people.

“the very health and future of humanity depend on our ability to act together”

The most recent United Nations IPCC scientific report states that ‘recent changes in the climate are widespread, rapid, and intensifying, and unprecedented in thousands of years.’  It warns that ‘unless there are immediate, rapid, and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to 1.5°C will be beyond reach.’

The COP26 Glasgow Climate Conference is being held in November under UK Presidency.  The conference will need to determine how the large reductions in climate warming greenhouse gas emissions agreed at the Paris Climate Summit in 2015 will be achieved.  It must also determine how those parts of the world that are being most affected by climate change, but have done least to cause it, can be helped to adapt to its effects.

One of the lessons we take from the Covid-19 pandemic is that the very health and future of humanity depend on our ability to act together, not only to respond to pandemics, but also to protect the health of Mother Earth. 

“As Birmingham’s faith communities we have a powerful responsibility to take action.”

In 2015 faith leaders from across the world came together to press for a climate agreement that would avert the worst effects of the climate change.  In Birmingham the Faith Leaders Group supported the interfaith Lambeth Declaration calling for urgent action to address climate change.  Then in 2019 the group supported Birmingham City Council’s climate emergency declaration and aspiration that Birmingham becomes ‘net zero carbon by 2030 or as soon after as a just transition permits – making sure we take communities with us, protecting employment and without impoverishing deprived communities.’

As Birmingham’s faith communities we have a powerful responsibility to take action.  As people of faith, we need to work at all levels to help make the changes needed.  At the national level we need to hold our government to account to deliver on its legally binding commitments in the UK 2008 Climate Act and on its own COP26 Goals, including mobilising the finance needed and working together.  We need to work to help Birmingham achieve its Climate Emergency Declaration ambitions.  We need to support each other within our own faith communities to reduce our carbon footprints.  And, above all, we need to work for a just transition to a low carbon future that listens to disadvantaged communities and families and helps provide a better future. 

We call upon all those involved in the COP26 summit to have the courage to take the necessary measures to prevent the catastrophe that humanity faces if we do not act.

Notes

Contact: Jonathan Gurling, Executive Secretary, Birmingham Faith Leaders’ Group: 07980127628 jonathangurling@yahoo.co.uk

The Birmingham Faith Leaders’ Group is a network of the principal leaders of Birmingham’s six major faith communities: Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism, Judaism and Buddhism. Formed in the immediate aftermath of the terror attack on the Twin Towers in New York in September 2001, the coming together was a direct response to attacks on faith communities in Birmingham. The Faith Leaders gathered together to proclaim that the faiths are united in working for peace, justice, care for our planet and protecting the right to live and worship free of harassment and prejudice, in all aspects of the life of the city of Birmingham.

As the Statement indicates, the Birmingham Faith Leaders’ Group has a long history of concern for the planet. This Statement builds on previous work the Faith Leaders have done, to seek to bring people of faith to awareness and action, at this momentous time of preparation for COP26 in November 2021.

This statement is for immediate use in media outlets and across relevant networks and organisations.

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