FaithInvest CEO Dr Lorna Gold took part in a COP28 briefing which has already received 2,400 views on YouTube!
Organised by the UK-based Religion Media Centre, the briefing took place on Tuesday, when wrangling over a final COP28 text was still going on, and it seemed there was a possibility of no agreement among participating governments.
A day later, the UN Climate Change Conference closed with an fossil fuel phase out agreement that it said signalled the 'beginning of the end' of the fossil fuel era. Climate activists have, however, criticised the final text as weak and hollow.
Speaking before this agreement, Dr Gold said that whatever the outcome of the COP28 negotiations, ‘the fossil fuel genie is out of the bottle and it won’t be put back in’.
Pope Francis had brought a 'jolt of electricity' to this year's COP by arguing that nothing could be done without phasing out fossil fuels, she added, noting that the agreed statement issued at the end of the Paris COP in 2015 did not refer to fossil fuels at all.
Largest interfaith climate event in history
Asked how much influence faith leaders had on the political discussions, Dr Gold said the Vatican had played a very active role in the Cop negotiations and lay Catholics involved in the discussions had been 'shuttling back and forward' from the Faith Pavilion to the main negotiators.
Rabbi Yonatan Neril, Executive Director of the Interfaith Centre for Sustainable Development, said this year, more than any other, faith communities showed up at COP28 with a united voice, and the Faith Pavilion really helped that happen: 'We had 70 sessions and 325 speakers at the Faith Pavilion – this was the largest interfaith climate event in history.'
Rabbi Neril said several government ministers had spoken at pavilion events and national delegates met religious figures: 'I think that the religious community in general upped its game in terms of trying to have an impact at a broader level.'
Carlos Zepeda, from the Laudato Si’ Research Institute at the Vatican, believed the solutions lay in a return to core religious values. He told the briefing that faith communities could be transformative and create change in environmental governance through appeal to their core principles.
FaithInvest's response to the COP28 final statement
Dr Lorna Gold said: 'The acceptance of the need to ‘transition away from fossil fuels’ after 30 years of blind denial could seen by some as a victory, but it is far from the kind of robust and meaningful action that is now needed. The final text is full of holes and no mention of how this transition will be measured or financed. How it is translated now into action, especially in terms of finance, is what matters.'
Read the UN press release on the final statement.