Faith and religious leaders have a key role in tackling climate change and helping protect the most vulnerable communities, COP26 President-Designate Alok Sharma has said.
His comments came after he paid a visit to the Vatican, during which he welcomed the continued support from the Holy See on climate action as the COP26 climate conference, set to take place in Glasgow in November, draws nearer.
Mr Sharma met with Vatican officials, including Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin. In addition to discussing the steps the Vatican State has taken itself to reduce its emissions, Mr Sharma highlighted the four COP26 goals: limiting warming to 1.5 degrees; adapting to protect communities and natural habitats; mobilising climate finance; and working together to accelerate action.
Mr Sharma stressed that all faiths have an important role to play on climate change, leading by example and mobilising people of faith to take action.
Pope Francis committed the Vatican City State to net zero by 2050 at the Climate Ambition Summit last December.
Speaking after his visit Mr Sharma said: “A cross-society approach is essential if we are to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of keeping global warming to less than 1.5 degrees alive.
“Faith leaders are an integral part of this approach and I was honoured to visit Vatican City to discuss this.
“His Holiness, Pope Francis, has committed the Vatican State to a net zero future and I hope his leadership and moral standing across the world will set a powerful example to others.”
A Faith and Science: Towards COP26 event will be held in Rome in the autumn and, as part of his visit, Mr Sharma was able to look forward to the event and discuss the mobilising of leaders from the world’s major faiths to build momentum ahead of COP26.
In preparation for the Faith and Science event, the British and Italian Embassies, together with the Holy See, are convening a series of virtual meetings. The first one took place on 4th February.
Ahead of his visit to the Vatican, Mr Sharma expressed delight at the trip, saying it gave him the opportunity “to learn about steps Catholics are taking around the world on climate change”.
“I am encouraged by the Catholic Church’s recognition of how urgently the world needs to act if we are to limit warming to 1.5C and protect our planet and people from the intensifying impacts of climate change,” he said.
Picture: Alok Sharma speaks with Cardinal Pietro Parolin at the Vatican. (Alok Sharma/Twitter).