A step forward but not far enough – ECCR Statement on COP26

ECCR joins our voice with all those who are calling for climate justice, and whose eyes have been hopefully turned towards the COP26 international climate talks in Glasgow this past fortnight. Yet the Glasgow climate pact has not delivered the bold plan we urgently need.  

This is especially critical for all those who are already experiencing the effects of a changing climate – vulnerable communities in some of the world’s poorest places, communities facing extreme weather events, which bring insecurity to farming, food, livelihoods and so much more. These talks were an opportunity – a crucial moment for world leaders to acknowledge the severity of the crisis and to come together to take action to address it. 

We needed a plan to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees to avoid the most catastrophic outcomes. Global leaders agreed changes that take us to 2.4 degrees of warming, which is lower than we were headed before but nowhere near low enough. If all the agreements made in the fringes of COP26, like those on reversing deforestation, are kept, then we could keep to a limit of 1.8 degrees. These numbers matter – they are life and death to millions of people.  

Earlier drafts of the pact committed the world to phasing out coal, the biggest contributor to climate change, but this was watered down late in the negotiations. It is still a significant moment towards ending coal – but our economies’ reliance on all fossil fuels needs to end. 

COP26 saw more attention paid to the need for rich countries to pay poorer countries for the loss and damage they have caused through their carbon emissions over many years. Sadly this hasn’t translated into the necessary levels of cash, but it has brought this issue more firmly centre stage. 

So there are signs of hope amidst the disappointment. Perhaps most significantly, Glasgow marked a step change in the movement for climate justice – including the many Christians who have spoken out, joined protests, held events in their churches, campaigned and prayed – all of which has contributed to a much greater focus on the climate crisis. The science is clear and the solutions are there – we just need the political will to make it happen.  

Now COP26 is over we cannot return to business as usual. Each of us has a part to play in taking action to address the climate emergency. Churches and Christians can consider how we bank, save, invest and spend in more climate friendly ways – resources to help include our Green Your Money campaign and our brand new Ethical Buying guide – so that each of us can make choices that protect creation rather than doing more harm.  

In addition, we will need huge sums of funding for the changes that UK society and the wider world must make, to reduce the level of global warming and to adapt to the impact of a changing climate. Our Church Action for Tax Justice campaign is calling for a fairer tax system that places more of the burden on the wealthy in order to raise these funds –  we are asking supporters to sign our Wealth Tax Pledge here.

The climate crisis was never going to be fixed by a two week conference but COP26 has created a huge momentum that we must now build on. We will each need to think this morning, this week – what more can I do? 

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