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Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme

A procession of people in diverse religious garments walking towards a building

Dr Tobias Mueller and Professor Esra Özyürek have published an opinion piece arguing that “Religious communities can make the difference in winning the fight against climate change”. Building on Dr Mueller’s ethnographic research focused on Extinction Rebellion and as an observer at COP26, and feeding into our Religion and Global Challenges initiative, the full piece was published on 1 December as part of The Conversation. Here is the opening section:

Religious communities can make the difference

The threat of climate change signals a “code red for humanity”, and we are running out of time to transition away from carbon and prevent catastrophic planetary warming. Our best chance is to convince existing organisations with financial, political and social power to pioneer drastic change. Faith communities – to which 4 billion people worldwide belong, with an economic value of over £900 billion (£676 billion) in the US alone – might be the force we need.

When US President John Biden met Pope Francis on October 29, climate change was a focus of their discussion. Later that day, the pope spoke on BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day strand on the Today programme to demand “radical decisions” from world leaders on climate. He warned that the interlinking crises of the pandemic and climate change have created “a perfect storm” about to cause havoc to human civilisation.

Before the COP26 UN climate conference took place in Glasgow, 40 religious leaders also met in the Vatican to make an unprecedented plea for addressing the climate crisis.

If one nation sinks, we all sink”, said Rajwant Singh, a Sikh leader from Washington D.C. And the Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb of the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, Egypt, an institution usually not known for its progressive politics, called on young Muslims “to be ready to fight against any action that damages the environment”.

Read the full article at


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All articles in The Conversation include permission to republish the material.

The photograph accompanying this news item was taken by Dr Tobias Mueller during COP26. It shows faith leaders entering Glasgow cathedral for an ecumenical climate service. 

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