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Archbishop sorry for comparing climate change to Holocaust

November 2, 2021

The most senior cleric in the Church of England apologized for having compared the impact of climate change to the Holocaust. Justin Welby had said politicians' inaction over climate change was akin to genocide.

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby
Justin Welby apologized for making the Nazi comparison to highlight the impact of changes in climateImage: picture-alliance/K. O'Connor

The Archbishop of Canterbury on Monday said he was "unequivocally" sorry for suggesting that failure to stop climate change could bring about as grave a result as that of Nazi war crimes.

Justin Welby said he meant to highlight the gravity of global warming as world leaders met in Scotland to discuss action on climate change at the COP26 summit. He was wrong to draw a comparison with Nazi atrocities, he added.

The Holocaust came close to wiping out the entire Jewish population in Europe.

Before the Nazi takeover of power in 1933, Europe had a vibrant, established, and diverse Jewish culture. By 1945, most European Jews — two out of every three — had been killed.

Welby told the BBC that world leaders would be "cursed" if they didn't urgently find ways to reverse climate change.

Calls for Welby to step down

Justin Welby, the most senior cleric in the Church of England, told the BBC that politicians who failed to find solutions to climate change would go down "in far stronger terms than we speak today of the politicians of the (19)30s, of the politicians who ignored what was happening in Nazi Germany."

Welby said that was because climate change "will kill people all around the world for generations" and that it would "allow a genocide of an infinitely greater scale."

Climate change would come "back to us or to our children and grandchildren," Welby added.

Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle newspaper, reacted furiously to comparisons drawn with Nazi war crimes.

"If this is as reported it is so sickening that I simply cannot comprehend how Welby can remain as a priest, let alone Archbishop," Pollar tweeted.

Welby, a former oil executive, then apologized for having made the comparison, saying that he "unequivocally" apologized for the words he used when trying to emphasize the gravity of climate change.

UN Climate Change Conference

"I'm sorry for the offence caused to Jews by these words," he added.

Pollard later tweeted to say the apology was sincere and it was time to move on from the incident.

rm/jsi (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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