Canterbury Archbishop Justin Welby has appealed to world leaders not to lose their “nerve” in fighting climate change in the leadup to the U.N. COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.
“It’s in all our interests and the world is behind you making it work,” Archbishop Welby urged leaders Friday. “Don’t lose your nerve. Be bolder.”
The archbishop’s appeal followed news that Chinese president Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin —who represent two of the world’s most polluting countries — will not attend the climate conference.
Among other expected no-shows for the Glasgow summit are Pope Francis, Iran’s President Ebraham Raisi, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
For his part, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called on countries gathering for the talks to make “bigger commitments” to curb carbon dioxide emissions in accord with the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement.
This week, Mr. Johnson unveiled his controversial plan for the U.K. to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, a program that includes replacing gas-fired home heating systems with green heat pumps at considerable personal expense to citizens.
A Friday op-ed in the Wall Street Journal suggested that the Prime Minister may have gone too far by admitting to the public just how much his climate scheme would cost them.
“If Prime Minister Boris Johnson didn’t appear to believe so sincerely in the virtues of tackling climate change, you’d assume he was trying to sabotage the crusade against carbon-dioxide emissions,” wrote Joseph C. Sternberg in an essay titled “Oops, Boris Johnson Told the Truth About Climate.”
In his comments Friday, Archbishop Welby underscored what he sees as the climate’s role in instigating or exacerbating global conflicts.
“We’re increasingly finding that when you analyse the conflicts in which we are trying to help, you see lurking somewhere in there climate change as a growing factor,” he proposed.
The archbishop also warned that the Church of England would “walk away” from investments in oil and gas companies if they don’t show greater commitment to combating climate change.
“It is much better to stay invested with skin in the game… than it is to walk away completely,” Welby said. “But we will absolutely walk away from companies that are not moving.”