Church leaders call for urgent action at COP26

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Dozens of Christian and other faith leaders have issued a joint call to world leaders at the COP26 summit to agree on "urgent and ambitious action" on climate change.

They said that a new draft agreement released as COP26 entered its final day is "worryingly unbalanced" and does not go far enough to support countries already experiencing the damaging effects of climate change. 

"While there is progress on mitigation, it is shocking that there is limited reference to action needed to address increasing climate impacts," they said. 

The faith leaders expressed disappointment that the document sheds no light on whether the as yet unfulfilled pledge of $100bn a year for poorer countries will be delivered. 

And concern was raised about climate finance leaving poorer nations with even more debt. 

"The current text does not address the fact that most public finance comes in loans, which are adding to the burden of debt for climate-vulnerable countries, nor the challenges on access," they said. 

While the draft agreement includes a new facility to address loss and damage in developing countries bearing the brunt of climate change, the faith leaders said it was "offensive and immoral" that the text fails to identify concrete action on how this will be delivered or provisions for new finance.

The statement ends with a call to countries to agree a separate and additional funding stream for climate mitigation and adaptation that is provided in the form of grants rather than loans. 

A further call asks countries, especially the major emitters, to exceed their current emissions reduction targets year on year at future COPs. 

"World leaders must now step up and deliver a clear, actionable text that strengthens previous agreements and puts those living on the frontline of the climate crisis at its heart," they said.

Signatories of the statement include Bishop Thomas Schirrmacher, Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance, Fidon Mwombeki, General Secretary of the All Africa Council of Churches, Fr Ioan Sauca, Acting General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Church of England Bishops Graham Usher and Olivia Graham, and Catholic Bishop John Arnold.