Faith and Science

11 October 2021

Faith and Science.. Website.

FWCC joins appeal from faith leaders and scientists in the run up to COP26

Faith leaders have been gathering online in the run up to the United Nations climate negotiations COP26 that are being held in November later this year. On Monday 4th of October 2021, faith leaders met in person at the Vatican to come together to share their ‘Faith and Science: Towards COP 26’ appeal. Their message was clear: ”Faith and science are essential pillars of human civilizationwith shared principles and complementarities. Together, we must address the threats facing our common home.”

Gretchen Castle stepped back from her role as FWCC’s General Secretary in July, but she honoured her previous duty to represent Quakers around the world at the Vatican this week. We thank Gretchen for representing Friends in this work.

One family in a common home

Today we come together united, in human fraternity, to raise awareness of the unprecedented challenges that threaten us and life on our beautiful common home, the Earth.

As leaders and scholars from various religious traditions, we unite in a spirit of humility, responsibility, mutual respect and open dialogue. This dialogue is not limited to merely the exchange of ideas, but is focused on the desire to walk in companionship, recognizing our call to live in harmony with one another and with nature.

Today’s gathering is the fruit of months of involved fraternal dialogue among faith leaders and scientists coming together, aware of the necessity of an even deeper solidarity in the face of the global pandemic and of growing concern for our common home.

Our call: the need for greater ambition at COP26

We need a framework of hope and courage.

But we also need to change the narrative of development and to adopt a new kind of economics: one that places human dignity at its canter and that is inclusive; one that is ecologically friendly, caring for the environment, and not exploiting it; one based not on endless growth and proliferating desires, but on supporting life; one that promotes the virtue of sufficiency and condemns the wickedness of excess; one that is not only technologically driven, but is moral and ethical.

Now is the time for urgent, radical and responsible action. Transforming the present situation requires the international community to act with greater ambition and fairness, in all aspects of its policies and strategies.

Climate change is a grave threat. In the interest of justice and fairness, we advocate for common but differentiated climate action at all levels, from individual behavioural changes to high-level political decision-making processes.

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. It is important that all governments adopt a trajectory that will limit the global average temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. To achieve these goals of the Paris Agreement, the COP26 Summit should deliver ambitious short-term actions from all nations with differentiated responsibilities. There is also an urgent need to deliver action to meet its medium- and long-term commitments.

We beg those nations with the greatest responsibility and present capacity to: step up their climate action at home; fulfil existing promises to provide substantial financial support to vulnerable countries; agree on new targets to enable them to become climate resilient, as well as to adapt to and to address climate change and loss and damage, which is already a reality for many countries.

We will accompany nations in seeking to protect and invest in the marginalized groups and vulnerable populations within their own borders, who for too long have borne disproportionate burdens and been on the frontlines of poverty, pollution and pandemic. The rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities must be given special attention, protecting them from predatory economic interests. They have been caretakers of the earth for millennia. We should listen to them and be willing to be guided by their wisdom.

We appeal to governments to raise their ambitions and their international cooperation to: favor a transition to clean energy; adopt sustainable land use practices including preventing deforestation, restoring forests and conserving biodiversity; transform food systems to become environmentally-friendly and respectful of local cultures; end hunger; and to promote sustainable lifestyles and patterns of consumption and production.

We ask that full consideration be given to the effects on the workforce of the transition to a clean energy economy. Priority must be given to the creation of decent employment for all, particularly those in fossil fuel dependent sectors. We ask to ensure an effective and inclusive just transition to low greenhouse gas emissions and climate resilient development. At the same time, we call on them to consider both short-term and long-term social and economic consequences, and adopt a balanced approach that combines care for future generations with guarantee that no one is deprived of his/her daily bread in our own time.

We call upon financial institutions, banks and investors to adopt responsible financing for investments that have positive impacts on people and the planet.

We call upon civil society organizations and everyone to face these challenges with courage in a spirit of collaboration.

In parallel, we ask the leaders attending COP26 to ensure that no more biodiversity is lost, and that all land and water ecosystems are restored, protected and sustainably managed.

In order to achieve these goals, a major educational challenge stands before us. Governments cannot handle such ambitious change alone. We need all of society – the family, religious institutions, schools and universities, our businesses and financial systems – to engage in a transparent and collaborative process, ensuring that all voices are valued and all people represented in decision-making, including those most impacted, especially women, and those communities whose voices are often ignored or devalued.

This is where we, religious leaders and institutions, can make an important contribution. Humanity must rethink its perspectives and values, rejecting consumerism and the pervasive throwaway culture, and embrace a culture of care and cooperation.

Raising public awareness is indispensable to the change of course that is needed.

Read the full statement.