Lutherans and other religious leaders urge governments to act on climate change
The General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, Reverend Martin Junge, and Presiding Bishop Dr. Frederick Shoo, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania, were among 40 world religious leaders who joined Pope Francis in his a climate summit at the Vatican on October 4.
Together, the leaders signed a call for governments and policymakers to take more ambitious action and cooperate more effectively to reduce climate change. Critically, the call highlights the agreement among scientists around the world that action is needed to limit the rise in Earth’s temperature by an additional 1.5 degrees to prevent a climate catastrophe.
The summit, “Faith and Science: Towards COP26”, made headlines around the world and was the culmination of months of online meetings between religious leaders and top climate scientists. Organized by the Vatican, the event included a symbolic tree-planting ceremony in which each religious leader added a handful of soil to an olive tree that will be planted in the Vatican Gardens.
Junge said in his comments that the appeal sends a clear message that “people of goodwill from all walks of life can unite, can act, can work together now.”
COP26, a United Nations global meeting to fight climate change, will be held in Glasgow, UK, from November 1-12.
Bishop Shoo of Tanzania was invited because of his pioneering work in the fight against climate change and has been nicknamed “The Bishop of Trees” because of his efforts to mobilize local communities to plant trees on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. He recalled Martin Luther’s words: “Even though I knew I would die tomorrow, I would plant a tree today,” adding that all children who attend confirmation classes are now required to plant trees and to learn about the climate crisis. He concluded with an appeal to the heads of government: “Let us save our common home, before it is too late.