‘Real chance for change’ Pope calls for leaders to take climate change seriously for COP26

COP26: PM issues message ahead of Children's Parliament

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During a BBC interview, Pope Francis urged political leaders to provide “concrete hope to future generations” by introducing radical measures to combat climate change. He also called on them to deliver “effective responses to the present ecological crisis.”

He said: “Climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic have exposed our deep vulnerability and raised numerous doubts and concerns about our economic systems and the way we organise our societies.

“These crises present us with the need to take radical decisions that are not always easy.”

The pontiff also insisted that countries should not act alone and instead work together, calling for a “renewed sense of shared responsibility for our world.”

He added: “We can confront these crises by retreating into isolationism, protectionism and exploitation.

“Or we can see in them a real chance for change, a genuine moment of conversion, and not simply in a spiritual sense.

“The most important lesson we can take from these crises is our need to build together, so that there will no longer be any borders, barriers or political walls for us to hide behind.”

The Pope’s words amid reports that is China is refusing to improve on climate targets and instead continues to increase its emissions up to and including 2029.

Pete Betts, a former UK and EU lead negotiator at UN climate conferences, said: “It’s very disappointing China hasn’t followed up with the leadership we were hoping for on their [2030 target].

“China is by far the world’s biggest emitter so what they do matters more than anybody else.

“Most other big countries have significantly strengthened their commitments for 2030.”

The Pope was expected to visit Scotland in November for the upcoming COP26 climate summit in Glasgow but Vatican officials have recently confirmed the pontiff will not be attending.

Earlier in the month the Vatican said its delegation would instead be led by its secretary of state, Cardinal Parolin.

The Climate summit is taking place at the Scottish Exhibition Campus in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12.

The Pope was expected to be one of around 120 world leaders attending to set plans to reduce emissions to tackle climate change.

The Pope is a long-standing supporter of climate issues and has previously spoken out about protecting the planet.

Earlier in the month, the pontiff met a number of scientists and religious leaders at the Faith and Science: Towards COP26 meeting.

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During the conference, the 84-year-old said COP26 “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.”

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