The Bishop of Salford has praised young people’s efforts in the battle against climate change as the UN’s Climate Change Conference (COP26) got underway this weekend.

Attending the Glasgow-based conference as the spokesperson on the environment for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, Bishop John Arnold of the Diocese of Salford is also hoping that government powers will action the core aims of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

He said: “200 leaders are meeting together to make important decisions, but never before in history has there been such an upsurge of interest and concern about what they’re going to discuss and the decisions that they need to make.

“And that concern has come from political leaders and faith leaders round the world, it’s come from organisations and associations, but it’s come most strongly and loudly from young people who feel a real urgency, because we’re not looking after our common home, we’re not caring for it, we’re not caring for our brothers and sisters.”

Reflecting on the local and global effects of climate change, Bishop John added: “We’ve seen changes in the climate which of course have an impact even on us in the Diocese of Salford.

“We’ve seen heavy rainfall and unseasonable temperatures.

“But in other parts of the world, particularly in the global south, the impact has been so much more.

“Our brothers and sisters who have done the least to deserve the change in the climate are the ones who are suffering most.

“Suffering because we have not taken care of the resources of our planet.

“We have not been good stewards and guardians of creation.

“But young people in your millions around the world have said this is important and we want the right decisions, and it’s up to our world leaders to make those decisions and to see that whatever decisions are made are appropriate and are carried through.”

It has an impact for our brothers and sisters around the world.

As well as celebrating the younger generation’s determination, Bishop John has emphasised the significance of political powers delivering on their promises from COP26.

He said: “It’s all very well to make a decision and then walk away and not really bother about it, which is what happened at the Paris Agreement in 2015.

“Lots of the right things were said and good decisions were made, but then the world leaders went away, and they didn’t follow up.

“They didn’t put into action what they decided, which makes these decisions to be made at COP26 in Glasgow all the more important.”

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Bishop John went on to suggest that the battle against climate change will only be successful if communities work with government powers to protect the environment.

He advised: “There are so many seemingly small things that you and I can be doing but if you add them all together, they make an impact and they help our climate, which isn’t just our climate here locally, it has an impact for our brothers and sisters around the world.

“Thank you for what you’re doing but now we’ve got to be even more determined in our prayer and our practical actions so that this meeting in Glasgow will be the success that it needs to be.”

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