In this blog, Rosie Venner, our Money Makes Change programme manager, explains why we need to pay attention to the upcoming United Nations climate conference (COP26).
Caring for the earth is a fundamental aspect of our faith – a response to our belief that all creation is made by God and that we are called to look after it, and as part of seeking justice as we see how the damage to the natural world harms the poorest and most marginalised the most. This care can be expressed in many ways – appreciating the beauty of God’s creation, taking steps to minimise our own carbon footprint, and holding governments and businesses to account for the commitments they make to tackle the climate crisis.
Caring for the earth means caring what happens at COP26.
What is COP26?
Every year, the United Nations brings together almost all the world’s countries to discuss and agree action on climate change. COP stands for the Climate Change Conference of the Parties, and the 26th COP will be happening this November in Glasgow. The UK’s hosting role means we have an opportunity to shape the discussions that happen and push for further action through the Paris Agreement.
What is the Paris Agreement?
COP21 took place in Paris in 2015, and it was here that all the countries agreed to work together to limit global warming. The Paris Agreement was born. This included how individual countries would reduce their carbon emissions and how much money they would commit to efforts to limit climate change and to deal with its effects.
Faith groups, charities and campaigners broadly welcomed the Paris Agreement. It was a sign that governments were serious about moving towards a low carbon world, and the hope was that this would inspire action not just by governments, but by businesses and investors too.
At the time, Christian Aid said “This deal must echo through boardrooms and stock-exchanges around the world – the era of dirty investments is over. The profitable, forward-looking business opportunities of the future lie in clean investment.”
Why is COP26 so important?
COP26 was due to happen last year but was delayed by the pandemic. This makes the timing even more critical. The plans made as part of the Paris Agreement are being updated for COP26 and need to be more ambitious than ever.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the world’s leading climate scientists – recently released a report that shows how the climate crisis is already affecting us. Heatwaves, floods and droughts, and the melting of glaciers and sea ice, are intensifying – and extreme weather conditions are already a matter of life and death for the world’s poorest communities.
At COP26 and beyond we need to see governments, businesses, investors and banks working together to take real action to limit global warming to 1.5C – the level countries agreed to at Paris but which is already likely to be exceeded in the next decade.
What can I do?
The eyes of the world will be on Glasgow for the climate summit, but COP26 is a time for all of us to commit to action on the climate crisis, wherever we may be. We can actively choose to listen to the voices of those most affected in the Global South, we can pray for the decision-makers and we can tell our MPs and government ministers that we want the UK to lead on ambitious climate action.
Here are some practical steps you can take:
- Join our Green Your Money campaign in the run up to COP26. You’ll get advice and tips to take steps through where we bank, how we invest, our pensions and our spending, to help avoid climate catastrophe, restore nature and protect the poorest communities from harm.
- If you’ve already taken a step to Green Your Money, please do encourage others in your church to sign up. If you’d like a speaker or an article for your newsletter, please get in touch.
- Support the Young Christian Climate Network relay as they walk from Cornwall to Glasgow. YCCN are calling on the UK government to commit to actions on aid, climate finance and debt cancellation to ensure the world’s poorest countries can respond to the climate crisis. Join us in Newcastle upon Tyne on the 5th October for an event with YCCN as part of Good Money Week – Book your FREE space via eventbrite here