COP26: Bishops’ Opening Statement

Catholic Bishops call on COP26 leaders to maintain the commitment to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees.

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As the COP26 UN climate Summit gets underway in Glasgow, two bishops representing the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, have called for governments to “act globally” and commit to supporting the world’s poorest nations who often face the worst effects of climate change.

Bishop Richard Moth, Lead Bishop for Social Justice and Bishop John Arnold Lead Bishop for the Environment, have released a joint statement emphasising that COP26 presents “a unique, unprecedented, and quite possibly final opportunity to engage in a meaningful global dialogue that will establish attainable targets and policies to address the ecological crisis we are living through right now.”

Statement

We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis that is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded and at the same time protecting nature.

Laudato Si’ § 39

Tackling the environmental crisis is a Catholic issue because it is a universal issue. It affects each and every one of us. If we do not act, we risk causing irreparable damage to God’s creation, the creation of which He made us the stewards.

As Catholics, we have been given a very clear steer from Pope Francis about the importance of caring for our common home. In his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’, His Holiness made it clear that to “harm the environment was to harm human beings”. Therefore, it is an unassailable fact that the ecological crisis is one of the most pressing social justice issue of our time. As a global community of more than a billion people, the Catholic Church has been at the forefront of tackling the ecological crisis. The COP26 meeting in Glasgow provides an opportunity for our communities in England and Wales to promote the voices and experiences of Catholics from around the world.

The Catholic community is being represented at the COP26 by delegations from a range of Catholic organisations across England and Wales, from the Holy See, and from Episcopal Conferences around the world. In this spirit of mutual respect, we are calling on governments to maintain their commitment to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees.

We will also insist that governments commit to supporting the world’s poorest nations, who often find themselves facing the worst effects of climate change despite having done the least to contribute towards it. We know that we need to act globally to protect the biodiversity of this earth, and all of God’s creation that depends on it. The ecological crisis is a human crisis, and we must strive to find solutions that ensure that the communities most vulnerable to the impact of climate change are not left behind in the decisions made by our leaders in Glasgow.

The COP26 meeting presents us with a unique, unprecedented, and quite possibly final opportunity to engage in a meaningful global dialogue that will establish attainable targets and policies to address the ecological crisis we are living through right now.

Right Reverend Richard Moth
Bishop of Arundel and Brighton
Lead Bishop for Social Justice

Right Reverend John Arnold
Bishop of Salford
Lead Bishop for the Environment