Credit: Eva Merritt

UK religious leaders call for climate justice at George Square vigil

By Janka Deák

The vigil aims to call for action, crossing boundaries in religious solidarity to protect and repair the planet.

A diverse crowd gathered on George Square at 2pm on on Sunday, made up of religious leaders from a variety of faiths for an hour of prayer for the negotiators at the upcoming COP26 conference.

The faith leaders emphasised that the event was an expression of hope that world leaders will put aside political self-interest and prioritise their responsibility to safeguard the future of humanity, and other life forms. Also present were representatives of religious communities, climate crisis activists, pilgrims, and members of the public of all age groups and religious backgrounds.

At this “moment of global, social and spiritual crisis”, the congregation was called upon to join in collective prayer for negotiators and representatives to understand the vital role they have to play in halting environmental catastrophe and make the right decisions to ensure a quality of life which all can share, including future generations. 

Following opening statements by Dr Maureen Sier, and Dr Rose Drew, director and CEO of Interfaith Scotland, leaders gathered on stage to read the Glasgow Multi-Faith Declaration for COP26. The Declaration calls for governments to commit to science-based targets aligned with a zero-emissions future, reaffirming “our obligation to be responsible for the Earth”, strengthening prior commitments to action, and taking advantage of the opportunities COP26 brings in addressing urgent need for action.

Attending religious leaders also advocated for justice by calling on those in power to put aside their political and doctrinal differences and cooperate to put into effect the 2015 Paris Agreement to commit to environmental protection. 

Lord Wallace, of the Church of Scotland, called on “leaders of the nations [to have] a proper sense of urgency as they deliberate and negotiate in these coming days” and the “courage to commit to decisive and necessary action” to hand off a better world to our future generations. 

His call was joined by Imam Hassan Rabbani, who prayed for “wisdom, fairness, compassion and courage [to be instilled] into the hearts of our leaders, so that they may lead us to a path of justice for the sake of our planet, our children and our children’s children”.

This was echoed by Inderjit Singh of the Sikh Community who spoke regarding the end of our “[abuse of] the environment through selfish overuse of [its] resources” and to exist instead in harmony with creation as “custodians of the Earth”.

The vigil ended with a minute of silence, where members of the congregation were encouraged to take a moment to hold in their hearts and thoughts the negotiators and our planet. Organized by Interfaith Scotland, the one-hour vigil marks the beginning of COP26 and Scottish Interfaith Week. A recording of the event is available to watch here.


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