Scottish faith leaders are urging politicians to ensure the COP28 climate conference counts, warning that humanity stands “on the brink of untold destruction” without urgent action.

They are calling on the UK Government to make paying into a loss and damage fund a key priority at the UN climate talks, which begin later this week in Dubai.

This appeal follows the Scottish Government, under Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership at COP27, helping put the issue of loss and damage on the global agenda.

Scotland become one of the first nations to make loss and damage payments with a dossier on the issue drawn up by the Scottish Government ahead of last year’s summit.

The 11 Scottish faith leaders are calling on the UK Government to commit to making the biggest polluters pay into the fund, so that it urgently delivers support to communities already experiencing climate breakdown, and to provide loss and damage finance in the form of grants not loans.

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They are also writing to the leaders of all the main political parties in the UK asking them to use their influence ahead of the global summit and to sign the Global Parliamentarians’ Pledge on loss and damage.

Signatories to the letter include representatives of the Church of Scotland, Scottish Catholic Bishops Conference, Hindu Temple of Scotland, Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist Community, Salvation Army and Scottish Religious Leaders Forum.

In a statement accompanying the letter they say: “The climate crisis is devastating lives and livelihoods across the world, threatening nations and ecosystems and pushing the earth’s life support systems to their limits. Without urgent action we are on the brink of untold destruction.

“This is a crisis for all humanity, but it is not experienced equally and not all are equally responsible. Many of the world’s poorest nations, who have contributed the least to climate change, are already paying the price of other nations’ actions.

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“The loss and damage fund agreed in principle at COP27 was a signal that the world is ready to correct this injustice. It must be enacted if we are to redress historic and current harms.”

They recognise that there are “significant” challenges but say that if those in power recognise the urgency, and respond with integrity, humility and humanity, “then there is hope”.

The group is also calling on the UK Government to ensure that the money for loss and damage is new and additional to existing climate finance commitments.

The other signatories are representatives of the General Meeting for Scotland (Quakers), Interfaith Scotland, Methodist Church in Scotland, Scottish Episcopal Church and United Reformed Church.

Dr Maureen Seir, director of Interfaith Scotland, said: “Urgent action is needed to reduce emissions as quickly as possible and to help those facing the worst impacts of this crisis, having contributed the least to it.”

And Andrew Tomlinson, campaigns and advocacy lead at Christian Aid Scotland, said: “We’re already seeing the impact of extreme weather, driven by climate change, on countries least able to deal with it.

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“We want to see the leaders of all the richer nations, especially the UK, pushing for action.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: “Alongside our international partners, the UK agreed a robust plan for the loss and damage fund.

“The UK played an important role in coming to this historic agreement, and we look forward to its passage at Cop28 which will support continued urgent action tackling loss and damage.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “First Minister Humza Yousaf intends to participate in Cop28 in Dubai as an opportunity to underline Scotland’s commitment to being a good global citizen, and to making a constructive contribution to addressing the twin crises of climate and biodiversity.

“The Scottish Government will use Cop28 to call on all to urgently step up to address the injustice at the heart of climate change by supporting those communities who are suffering the most but have done the least to cause climate impacts, including through our leadership on loss and damage.”

Scottish Labour Environment spokesperson Sarah Boyack said “The climate emergency is already doing immense damage both at home and across the world.

“This is a global crisis that requires a global response, and Scotland must play its role.

“It is absolutely essential that we all do our part not only to stop temperatures rising but also to help countries hit hard by the effects of climate change.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat climate emergency spokesman Liam McArthur MSP said: “There is no escaping the truth that wealthier countries have historically done more to cause the climate crisis, while poorer countries and the most marginalised are left to deal with the gravest consequences.

“That is why Scottish Liberal Democrats have put forward proposals that would see energy companies and the UK Government paying into this fund to support all those affected by climate disasters.”