Climate change failure is moral outrage: Faith leaders

Cancun, Mexico - Scotland's religious leaders have described the West's failure to help developing nations cope with climate change as a "moral outrage".

Senior members of the country's Christian and Islamic communities outlined their position in a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron.

They urged the UK government to do all it could to ensure progress was made at the UN climate change conference.

The summit is due to open in Cancun, Mexico, on Monday.

The letter to Mr Cameron has been signed by the Moderator of the Church of Scotland's General Assembly, John Christie, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, David Chillingworth, and Shaykh Ruzwan, a senior figure in the Islamic community.

It highlights disappointment at the outcome of last year's UN climate change conference in Copenhagen and says every day that passes sees lives "affected and even lost".

The faith leaders write that: "Millions of people in developing countries are already being affected by increasingly severe storms, droughts and changing weather patterns, despite having done little to cause the problem.

"Faith-based international aid organisations such as SCIAF, Christian Aid and Islamic Relief are already working hard to help affected communities."

'Fair' agreement

The letter continues: "This is why it is vital that the UK government does everything it can to ensure agreeing a fair, ambitious and legally-binding global agreement on climate change is at the forefront of negotiations in Cancun.

"The final agreement must also include vastly improved greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for the wealthiest nations and greater financing for poor countries to help them cope with the challenges brought on by climate change."

It adds: "It is a moral outrage that as yet developed countries appear unwilling to find the money so urgently needed to deal with this issue."

Scotland's climate change minister, Stewart Stevenson, will be part of the UK delegation at Cancun.

Mr Stevenson has said he will use the opportunity to call for the international community to be more ambitious in its efforts to tackle climate change.

And he will argue that the transition to a low carbon economy is sensible, sustainable and ultimately unavoidable.

However, the Mexican government has already warned it is unlikely that a comprehensive deal will be secured in Cancun.