The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, apologised on Twitter for suggesting that the impact of neglecting climate change would be worse than Nazi genocide.
The UN COP26 summit on climate change opened on Monday in Glasgow, with world leaders, environmental experts and activists pleading for decisive action to halt global warming.
Justin Welby, the most senior cleric in the Church of England and the spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion of about 85 million Christians, earlier told the BBC that leaders who fail to act on climate change could be making a bigger mistake than their predecessors who ignored warnings about the rise of the Nazis.
“People will speak of them in far stronger terms than we speak … of the politicians who ignored what was happening in Nazi Germany because this will kill people all around the world for generations,” he said.
“It will allow a genocide on an infinitely greater scale. I’m not sure there’s grades of genocide, but there’s width of genocide, and this will be genocide indirectly, by negligence, recklessness.”
Later he apologised for the offence caused to Jews by his comments: “I unequivocally apologise for the words I used when trying to emphasise the gravity of the situation facing us at COP26,” Welby said on Twitter. “It’s never right to make comparisons with the atrocities brought by the Nazis.”