The environment is the ‘largest challenge’ ever faced by humanity, former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has warned.
Lord Williams of Oystermouth, 69, said the issue is ‘everyone’s problem’ and added that legislation alone cannot fix it.
Speaking during an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he also criticised echo chambers on both sides of the political debate.
‘Arguably the largest challenge ever to the human race is the shape of an environmental challenge,’ he told artist Grayson Perry, who guest edits Today on Boxing Day.
It comes as the current Archbishop of Canterbury addressed the London Bridge terror attack during his Christmas Day sermon.
Climate change, Lord Williams said, is ‘not a problem coming from outside. It’s everyone’s problem, everybody’s issue.
‘It’s also not something legislation alone can cure.’
Lord Williams spoke out about the ‘sinister feeling that this must be some kind of conspiracy’.
The belief that ‘climate change has been invented by communists, illuminati or some sort of other mysterious group who are determined to undermine who were are. That’s something I worry about,’ he said.
‘The idea that there are people who believe climate change is a huge confidence trick.’
The former Archbishop of Canterbury, who held the post from 2002 to 2012, criticised an ‘echo chamber’ in thinking, saying ‘we speak to people who mirror back what we think’.
And he said both the ideologies of the Left and Right will not be able to deal alone with the fact ‘that we are vulnerable as a human race’.
Lord Williams criticised ‘myths’ on both sides in the run-up to the general election.
He told Today: ‘Broadly on the Conservative side, there’s an assumption still that most of our ills are caused by something coming in from outside.
‘There is a sort of integrity to our national identity, culture, that left to itself would find a sensible just balance – ‘unfortunately the rest of the world keeps interfering’ – it’s a very strong myth, a very compelling myth.
‘Equally, a bog standard left wing myth would be – ‘it is possible to resolve all these questions once and for all, we can impose a just society, we can legislate justice into being, we can almost make tragedy and misunderstanding impossible, we’ll finish the job’ – and that is just as much of a myth.’
Lord Williams is one of five people who takes over Today during the Christmas and New Year period, including environmental activist Greta Thunberg and outgoing Supreme Court president Lady Hale.
Meanwhile, current Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby discussed the London Bridge terror attack during his Christmas Day sermon yesterday.
Justin Welby told worshippers at Canterbury Cathedral that darkness is a ‘monster that lies’ in reference to the terrorist atrocity which killed 25-year-old Jack Merritt and 23-year-old Saskia Jones.
The archbishop also spoke of a recent visit to Beni, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has had an outbreak of the Ebola virus.
He delivered his sermon during a Eucharist service at 11am and said: ‘Canterbury – a place of some 50,000 people, is a city of peace celebrating Christmas.
‘Now imagine a city five times this size where its citizens face disease and war this December 25. I was there in October. It is called Beni.
‘It has been at the centre of the second worst outbreak of Ebola; about three thousand people have died.
‘Its Anglican bishop is alight with Christ, always present, always giving of himself.
‘Darkness is a monster that lies. Its growling claims seem to call out with a louder volume than the love filled whispers of the light.’
Meanwhile, the Pope urged the world to let the light of Christmas pierce the ‘darkness in human hearts’ as he led Christian celebrations yesterday.
The 83-year-old pontiff singled out conflicts in Venezuela, Ukraine and Syria as well as armed conflicts ravaging many African countries as he appealed for peace in troubled hotspots.
Francis delivered his Christmas Day message hours after assuring the faithful that God loves everyone – ‘even the worst of us’ – following a year of scandals and opposition.