Cop26 climate summit outcome will be ‘life or death for millions of people,’ says Archbishop of Canterbury

‘If these talks do not deliver, we face a dark, disturbing future,’ Dr Welby warns

Lamiat Sabin
Sunday 31 October 2021 00:02 BST
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury (AFP/Getty)

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said the outcome of the Cop26 climate summit will be “life or death for millions of people” living in countries most effected by extreme weather.

Justin Welby said the talks, due to begin in Glasgow on Sunday, are “emergency surgery” for the world.

The former oil executive, who in 1987 resigned from the fossil fuel industry after 11 years to train for Anglican priesthood, added that leaders must deliver for “the whole human family”.

Dr Welby is due to visit the summit on Monday. Ahead of his visit, he warned that radical action is needed but said there is still time to “save our world from the worst of the catastrophe”.

He said: “The Cop26 climate talks are emergency surgery for our world and its people.

“The outcome will be life or death for millions of people. That’s how seriously we must take this moment.

“The eyes of the world are on Glasgow: leaders must deliver for the whole human family.

“We can, and must, choose life, so that our children may live.

“If these talks do not deliver, we face a dark, disturbing future – but there is still time, just, to save our world from the worst of the catastrophe.

“This is a chance to start living in a way that is healthier, kinder, and better for everyone.”

The Church of England has divested from coal companies and says it will pull investment by 2023 from oil and gas firms that are not on a pathway to zero emissions.

It has also led the way on an initiative now supported by investors with funds worth about £30 trillion to assess companies’ climate performance.

Dr Welby said he hopes the plight of communities most affected by climate change will be highlighted at Cop26.

“It is their voices that I hope are heard, along with those of everyone on the burning front lines of climate injustice: the poorest, most vulnerable, and marginalised people already living with droughts, floods and vanishing natural resources,” he said.

“People who face ruined lives and livelihoods, mass migration, instability, famine, war, and death.

“People who see our prosperity, our vaccines against all manner of diseases including Covid-19, and yet do not share in their benefit.

“We can no longer ignore the cries of people who are oppressed and of the groans of our Earth.”

Earlier this month, Dr Welby was one of dozens of faith leaders including Pope Francis to have made a joint appeal to governments to commit to ambitious climate change targets at the upcoming Cop26 conference.

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