An urgent call was made on Monday by Pope Francis and 40 faith leaders warning of the “grave threat” facing the world from climate change.
They made the appeal on Oct. 4 in a joint message signed in the Vatican’s Hall of Benediction, which was decorated with plants to mark the occasion.
Addressed to governments participating in the 26th U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland from Oct. 31 through Nov. 12, the appeal calls for decisive international political action to combat climate change and “to safeguard, restore and heal our wounded humanity and the home entrusted to our stewardship.”
“The world is called to achieve net zero carbon emissions as soon as possible, with wealthier countries taking the lead in reducing their own emissions and in financing emission reductions from poorer nations,” they said in the 2,000-word appeal signed by almost 40 faith leaders.
The faith leaders represent an estimated 84 percent of the world’s people that identity with a faith, and come from the main Christian denominations, the two main branches of Islam (Sunni and Shi’a), Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism and Jainism.
Christians present at the signing in the Vatican included Pope Francis; Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople; Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian Orthodox Church, representing Patriarch Kirill; and Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, representing the Anglican Communion.
Muslim representatives included the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Muhammad Al-Tayyeb (Egypt) and Ayatollah Seyed Mostafa Mohaghegh Damad from the Academy of Sciences in Tehran (Iran), while the worldwide Jewish community was represented by Rabbi Noam Marans of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations.
Pope Francis presented the signed text to Alok Sharma, president of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26), and Italy’s foreign minister Luigi Di Maio.
“It is important that all governments adopt a trajectory that will limit the global average temperature rise to 1.5°C [2.7°F] above pre-industrial levels,” the leaders wrote.
“To achieve these goals of the  Paris Agreement, the COP26 Summit should deliver ambitious short-term actions from all nations with differentiated responsibilities.”
The meeting saw brief addresses by faith leaders, as well as Alok Sharma.
“The climate crisis we face is grave. And entirely of our own making. A crisis built by human hands. And it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the challenge. By the injustice of the situation, where the poorest are suffering the most, having contributed the least to climate change,” said Sharma in his speech.
“But today shows us how we can, and will, turn the tide. Doing so requires us all to play our part. Every country and every part of society, mounting a global effort led by those most human qualities, reason and morality. The head and the heart,” he added.
“Through science we understand the damage we are inflicting on our planet, and its people. Through morality we comprehend our responsibility to restore the planet and nature.”
When it was Pope Francis’ turn to speak, he said he had decided not to read his address aloud to leave for more time to hear from others.
In the written text of his address, shared with participants, he highlighted three concepts.
“Openness to interdependence and sharing, the dynamism of love and a call to respect. These are, I believe, three interpretative keys that can shed light on our efforts to care for our common home,” he said.
“COP26 in Glasgow represents an urgent summons to provide effective responses to the unprecedented ecological crisis and the crisis of values that we are presently experiencing, and in this way to offer concrete hope to future generations. We want to accompany it with our commitment and our spiritual closeness.”
The Glasgow summit will encourage governments to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.