COP26: Pope urges leaders to provide ‘concrete hope’ for future generations

Pope Francis has called on political leaders heading to COP26 to urgently tackle the climate crisis to give “concrete hope to future generations”.

He said “radical decisions” are needed as the world faces a “succession of crises” in healthcare, the environment, food supplies and the economy.

In a special Thought for the Day message for BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the leader of the world’s Catholics warned against countries taking an isolationist approach, and called for a “renewed sense of shared responsibility for our world”.

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His comments come as world leaders prepare to head to Glasgow for the crucial climate summit, where countries are under pressure to increase their ambition to tackle the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change.

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Action already pledged by nations to curb emissions in the next decade leave the world well off track to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial times, beyond which increasingly severe impacts will be felt.

The Pope told Today: “We have lost our sense of security and are experiencing a sense of powerlessness and loss of control over our lives.”

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He said the crises being faced “forecast a perfect storm” but also provide opportunities.

Francis added: “These crises present us with the need to take decisions, radical decisions that are not always easy. At the same time, moments of difficulty like these also present opportunities. Opportunities that we must not waste.

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COP26: Pope urges leaders to provide ‘concrete hope’ for future generations . (Photo by Filippo Monteforte/AFP)

“The political decision makers who will meet at COP26 in Glasgow are urgently summoned to provide effective responses to the present ecological crisis and in this way to offer concrete hope to future generations.

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“And it is worth repeating that each of us – whoever and wherever we may be – can play our own part in changing our collective response to the unprecedented threat of climate change and the degradation of our common home,” he said, in a message also available on BBC Sounds.

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The two-week climate conference is being seen as key to increasing action on cutting emissions to deliver on the pledges in the global Paris Agreement to limit temperature rises to “well below” 2C, and try for the safer 1.5C goal.

Leaders of major economies will go to Scotland from a G20 meeting in Rome where climate is set to dominate the agenda, although key heads of state, including China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, are set to miss both summits.

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Countries – in particular major emitters – are facing calls from across society, from UN chiefs to religious leaders and campaigners, to increase action to keep the 1.5C goal in reach and avoid catastrophic climate impacts.

There will also be pushes to phase out coal power, boost electric vehicles and protect forests, while developed countries also need to deliver finance for poorer nations to develop cleanly and cope with the already inevitable impacts of a warming world.

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In an interview for BBC Radio 4’s 39 Ways To Save The Planet, Hollywood star, former California governor and climate campaigner Arnold Schwarzenegger said everyone has to work together to tackle the issue.

He said it is “great when leaders get together every year and talk about what they can do”, but he added he is not a big fan of making everything rest on the annual “Cop” conferences.

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