GLASGOW, United Kingdom — The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby apologized on Monday for suggesting that the impact of climate change would be worse than Nazi genocide.
Welby, the most senior cleric in the Church of England and leader of the worldwide Anglican communion, made the comments in an interview with the BBC at the COP26 summit in Glasgow.
He said that national leaders will be “cursed” if they do not achieve the goal of the United Nations summit to urgently find concrete ways to stabilize global heating.
Politicians who fail at this task will be spoken of by future generations “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,” he said.
He added that this was because climate change “will kill people all around the world for generations” and “allow a genocide on an infinitely greater scale” that will “come back to us or to our children and grandchildren.”
Welby, a former oil executive before becoming a man of the cloth, later apologized for offending Jewish people with the Holocaust analogy. Welby is himself half-Jewish, on his father’s side.
“I unequivocally apologize for the words I used when trying to emphasize the gravity of the situation facing us at COP26,” he tweeted.
“It’s never right to make comparisons with the atrocities brought by the Nazis, and I’m sorry for the offense caused to Jews by these words,” he added.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said of the comments: “It is up to individuals how they choose to frame the problem.”
Stephen Pollard, editor of The Jewish Chronicle newspaper, reacted furiously to Welby’s comments, tweeting that they were “so sickening that I simply cannot comprehend how Welby can remain as a priest, let alone Archbishop.”
He later relented, saying the Archbishop made “a proper apology, not mealy-mouthed.”