A summary of week 1, in the life of the overall conference and the Christian presence in Glasgow.
Key announcements this week:
- An agreement has been made by most nations to cut methane by 30% by 2030, though some major players have not yet signed.
- South Africa has been offered significant international funding to support a move away from coal power.
- A commitment has been made to end deforestation by 2030 which is a significant step, particularly as Brazil was a signatory, though arguably it is not fast enough.
- Transparency has been promised in UK finance, which is not compulsory but goes some way to combat greenwashing.
- The focus on Friday is youth and empowerment, with Friday an appropriate choice to line up with the school strikes for the climate. The UK announced a Duke of Edinburgh style Climate Leaders Award for young people and new school curriculum content for 2023.
The news is not all rosy though. There are some accusing our leaders of ‘greenwashing’, saying the right things but without serious enough commitments to go with the words. In particular, making commitments while still continuing to exploit new sources of fossil fuels, doesn’t add up.
Rich nations have failed to commit to the hoped-for amounts to support poorer nations in decarbonisation. The media have reported the absence of China, and also the distant deadline of 2070 that India has set for net-zero.
Do keep praying.
Over the opening weekend, those who had walked or cycled arrived in Glasgow, including the YCCN relay, which we connected with our tributary route in August, and the Camino walkers who also passed through Gloucester.
Many who visited the Climate Sunday stand at COP26 said that Climate Sunday had got their church-going for the first time. Climate Sunday was celebrated by a significant number of churches this year – 2,200 services registered and an estimate that there may be as many as three times that again that didn’t register.
Bishop Graham Usher, lead bishop for the environment hosted the Green Church Showcase on Tuesday. It has been uploaded onto youtube and is well worth watching in order to gain inspiration from the stories of what others are doing. Watch the Green Church Showcase here.
More than 25,000 prayer boats were made in response to a Christian Aid campaign, all gathered together in their COP26 venue. They are calling on world leaders to take action under the heading of climate justice, focussing particularly on the way the impact is being felt already by the world’s poorest.
Christian Climate Action has had a significant presence on the streets of Glasgow, at times walking alongside XR in their protests, at times organising independently and praying for the proceedings.
Here in Gloucester, we end week 1 by organising an event under the COP26 coalition banner, in partnership with others locally. Hosted outside the Cathedral, we give space to a variety of voices from our community to express their hopes concerning COP26, Art Shape leads us in a creative expression of our hopes, and Bishop Robert leads us in a minute’s silence. Many make their own way to the gathering, but joining us are a group of cyclists, highlighting cycling as a low carbon transport option, and a group walking in ‘solemn procession’ through the city first before joining the gathering.
Please keep praying:
- For the courage to make commitments that are significant enough to bring real change.
- For a change of heart for those who are not yet convinced that this is essential
- For the Christian presence in Glasgow, that they may bring peace and hope…
Creator God, giver of life,
You sustain the earth and direct the nations.
In this time of climate crisis
grant us clarity to hear the groaning of creation
and the cries of the poor;
challenge us to change our lifestyles;
guide our leaders to take courageous action;
enable your church to be a beacon of hope;
and foster within us a renewed vision
of your purposes for your world;
Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
by and for whom all things were made. Amen.
Playing our part
Remember also to do what you can, where you can. Here’s how we can all make a difference.