'I'll be at COP26 – faith leaders must get behind the science'

Children gathered at Parliament Square to read letters to the Earth, ahead of the COP26 summit.

Children gathered at Parliament Square to read letters to the Earth, ahead of the COP26 summit. - Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Next week I will be in Glasgow attending COP26 – the 26th Conference of the Parties since the Paris Agreement of 1995.

I will be with other rabbis, with whom I run a project called EcoSynagogue. We, rabbis from across the Jewish denominational spectrum, have created with initial support from the EcoChurch project an environmental audit that can be undertaken by synagogues to reduce the carbon emissions that emanate from their communal space, as well as to encourage worshippers to consider how to live more sustainable lives for the climate.

We have a stall in Glasgow at the Scottish Events Centre on Tuesday, November 2 – if you are up at COP, you are welcome to visit us.

Faith has a serious and important role in creating clarity about what we need to do to prevent damage to our climate. The science is becoming clearer and the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report made it clearer that humanity is the main cause of climate change. So leaders of faith communities need to get behind the science, and encourage our communities of worship, and society as a whole to talk more about the damage being done to the climate; as well as considering how to act. 

The Chief Rabbi, for his part, has been clear about the need to act, talking often about the responsibility that we have as individuals for the safety and health of our wider world.

I have been working with my community in Muswell Hill, to reduce waste, stop using single use plastics, consider our source of energy and look at the possibilities for solar power, among other changes. 

In Jewish tradition there is a famous statement: "‘If I am not for myself, who will be; if I am for myself, then what am I; If not now, when."

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Looking after our individual interests cannot be to the detriment of others. And with climate change, the "if not now, when?" cannot be more apposite. 

David Mason is rabbi of Muswell Hill Synagogue.

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