'Religious leaders have a responsibility': Rabbi at COP26

David Mason at Cop26

Rabbi David Mason called on faith leaders to tackle climate change at COP26 - Credit: David Mason

A Muswell Hill rabbi has called for faith leaders to take action on climate change at COP26. 

Rabbi David Mason hosted an Eco Synagogue stall at the climate conference last Tuesday (November 2) in partnership with the Board of Deputies of British Jews. 

The rabbi spent time networking with other religious leaders, working on interfaith relations and green initiatives taking place in faith communities. 

He told the Ham&High: “It’s exciting, and it’s got a lovely buzz and sense of togetherness.   

“We’re able to have conversations from different faith groups – I had a chat with an organisation called Climate Sunday which works on sustainable services in churches, and it’s good to be connecting leaders and seeing the good work that people are doing, especially across religious communities.” 

He added: “We’ve used social media a great deal, and there’s a community beyond the green zone (programme of events) who we’re also speaking to and getting the message out to, a message that religious leaders have a responsibility and can bring communities along with them. 

“The Chief Rabbi has talked a lot about responsibility for our world as a Jewish value, and the scarifies that we might have to make in the future in order to protect our planet – that’s been really inspiring.” 

The Muswell Hill representative spotted Prince William speaking to other stall-holders, and said it showed the royals “really care”. 

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“The work the Royal Family is doing is superb in terms of showing that it is critical and urgent to change how we’re leading our lives, and so to see him there is really quite inspiring in terms of their support for this agenda.” 

Edwin Poots (l), Rabbi Mark Goldsmith, Rabbi David Mason and Northern Ireland First Minister Paul Givan

Northern Ireland environment minister Edwin Poots (l), Rabbi Mark Goldsmith, Rabbi David Mason and Northern Ireland First Minister Paul Givan (r) at COP26. - Credit: David Mason

Rabbi Mason said it is up to faith leaders to get their own “houses in order” to tackle climate change, be it in synagogues, churches, mosques or gurdwaras. 

“But we can also speak truth to power – we don’t think that politicians are doing enough, and they might not have the ability to do what’s needed. There’s a passion there we need to bring, radically, to politicians to say ‘we need to change’,” he said. 

“We can also bring a sense of solidarity, we can work together, because it’s not just individuals but across boroughs and cities. 

“From Eco Synagogue’s perspective, we want greater conversations about what it means to change. We’ll also be able to bring more pressure onto the political sphere. This is a 365 days-a-year consciousness, it’s not just about COP.”