COP26 must address 'unprecedented' climate crisis: Pope

Less than one month from the COP26 climate summit, world leaders are under unprecedented pressure to decarbonise their economies and chart humanity's path away from catastrophic global warming.

A handout photo on 4 October 2021 by the Vatican Media shows Pope Francis (R) and Egyptian Islamic scholar and the current Grand Imam of al-Azhar mosque, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb (C) exchanging gifts during a private audience at The Vatican, within the conference "Faith and Science: Towards COP26". Picture: VATICAN MEDIA/AFP

ROME - World leaders meeting later this month for a UN climate summit must offer solutions to an "unprecedented ecological crisis", Pope Francis warned on Monday.

"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," Francis said.

The leader of the world's 1.3 billion Catholics, who is hoping to attend the UN talks, issued the plea in writing to members of a Vatican-hosted conference called Faith and Science: Towards COP26. It brought together scientists and religious leaders ahead of the landmark two-week summit that kicks off on 31 October in Scotland.

The Vatican participants were due to sign an appeal denouncing the "seeds of conflict - greed, indifference, ignorance, fear, injustice, insecurity and violence", which in turn "cause the serious wounds we are inflicting on the environment, such as climate change, desertification, pollution and loss of biodiversity", the pope said.

Anglican leader Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, one of the religious leaders attending the Vatican conference, said the world needed "a pilgrimage to a clean economy, which decreases carbon emissions and increases renewable energy development and use".

"We have in the last 100 years declared war on the creation," he said, calling for a "dramatic and rapid change in taxation and trade rules" in favour of a more sustainable economic model.

"The world has just enough time to get this right," he insisted.

Last month, Francis, Welby and Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I issued another plea for climate action, saying they felt compelled to "call on everyone, whatever their belief or worldview, to endeavour to listen to the cry of the Earth".

Less than one month from the COP26 climate summit, world leaders are under unprecedented pressure to decarbonise their economies and chart humanity's path away from catastrophic global warming.

But with the pandemic still raging in parts of the globe and with countries already battered by climate-driven calamities pleading for help, the negotiations in Glasgow are likely to be fraught.

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