COP26 is the Conference of the Parties on climate change, took place in Glasgow from 31 Oct to 12 Nov.
This infographic explains why COP26 was a crucial moment for taking forward the pledges made in the 2015 Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
On the conclusion of COP26, the Rt Revd Graham Usher, the Bishop of Norwich, also the Church of England’s lead bishop for the environment, and the Rt Revd Olivia Graham, the Bishop of Reading shared a joint statement:
“At COP we called for keeping global warming to below 1.5 degrees, ending fossil fuel subsidies, and securing finance for the world’s most vulnerable people who are already effected by climate breakdown.
“Progress was made in all these areas, plus cutting methane emissions and halting deforestation. We were particularly inspired to hear powerful testimonies from young people and representatives of indigenous peoples.
“We pay tribute to the work of Alok Sharma MP, the COP26 President, and his team. Negotiations always have some compromises and disappointments. These impact the world’s economically poorest the most. We must now keep up the moral pressure so that pledges are urgently turned into measurable action.
“The whole world needs to do more for climate justice. More quickly. More generously. More together. During its presidency year, the UK can be a key player. And this includes all of us within the Church of England.
“At Glasgow, the world glimpsed the possibility of a hopeful future. Hurting God’s creation and contributing to the suffering of God’s poorest people is not the ‘love God and your neighbour’ that Jesus commands of us. COP showed us the unity of purpose people of faith can bring. This encouragement should reignite in all of us hope for our future.”
COP26 did not provide all we hoped for, but it has given some positives to build on. The UK, with Italy, retains the presidency of COP until it is handed to Egypt later next year, so we need to keep up our advocacy pressure to get pledges made into policies. The Climate Coalition make it simple to contact your MP and you can sign the Giant Christmas Card to tell No. 10 ‘the proof is in the pudding’ for climate action after COP26.
The Bishop Olivia, who sits on the Church of England Environment Group, was in Glasgow during COP26. She sent us regular reflections and spoke to the media. See the films and listen to the interviews below and scroll down the page for resources you can use.
Earlier updates and media interviews
3 November - Quakers in Britain
Quakers in Britain speak to Bishop Olivia about the elephant in the room at COP26.
30 October - Young Christian Climate Network (video)
Bishop Olivia radio interviews during COP26
The main faith groups’ asks for COP26 were around climate finance justice. They were to:
- Prioritise a new and additional finance mechanism for climate-related loss and damage (money to help people who are already losing homes, loved ones and livelihoods as a direct result of climate impacts)
- Put an end to all use of public money to subsidise fossil fuels.
You can find out more here
- Download the briefing from Make COP Count for more detail
- Bishop Olivia also preached a sermon on climate finance at Reading Minster
- This is the Anglican Communion COP26 Policy Position and this is the Joint Faiths Statement.
Tell people why these issues are important
It is vitally important that our politicians and institutions make the pledges made at COP26 into policies on action in the UK and on fair climate finance.
- There were some good words spoken at COP26 but when it comes to climate action the proof is in the pudding! Sign the Climate Coalition’s Giant Christmas Card, a campaign to put pressure on the UK government to follow through on the words spoken at COP26 and also send a message to Boris Johnson.
- You could also write directly to your MP.
- The Time Is Now declaration is still open to signatures and your church can sign it too.
- Don’t forget to involve children and young people. Our Be The Change Be Vocal resources explain how.
Prayer is essential!
The former head of the UN talks wrote an open letter of thanks after the Paris COP, which started “For those who prayed …” recognising the role prayer played at those talks.
People of Prayer and Action
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” Psalm 24: 1
Reflect how the choices you, God’s child, make each day could have a positive impact on other people and creatures around the world.
Video: A Symphony of Praise: Prayers for the Climate and Ecological Emergency
The negotiations have concluded at COP26 but that is not the end, we can pray that climate justice is played out and pledges are made into policy whilst remembering our own actions are also significant.
“We can no longer afford to assume that addressing climate change is the sole responsibility of national or local governments, or corporations or individuals. This is an everyone-everywhere mission in which we all must individually and collectively assume responsibility.” – Christiana Figueres (from The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis)
Father God, Lord of Creation, equip each of us, our governments, and our church communities to take responsibility to safeguard the future of your earth for our children and their children.
Christiana Figueres was instrumental in the Paris Climate agreement in 2015. For more information see her TED Talk “The case for stubborn optimism on climate” and reflect on your own response to the challenge we all face.
Also investigate the Eco Church award scheme as a helpful framework for action by your church community.
(Our thanks to Leeds Diocese and St Mark’s Church, Harrogate for sharing daily prayer content throughout COP26.)
Many more prayer resources:
- Tearfund send weekly prayer texts.
- Pray and Fast for the Climate produces prayer points each month.
- Climate Intercessors have many resources.
- 24-7 Prayer has several climate justice prayer resources.
- Christian Aid has monthly prayer points.
- St James Piccadilly shared their programme for an all night vigil for COP26, the materials could also be used for other climate events.
- The Pope gave the Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4 on Friday 29 October urging us to work together in caring for our common home.
- The YCCN Relay arrived in Glasgow on 30 October and held a Relay closing service, you can watch the recording.
- An Interfaith Vigil was livestreamed from George Square, Glasgow on 31 October. The recording is here.
- This is a collection of prayer films for the climate and ecological emergency.
- Tearfund encouraged churches to join in with their COP26 Church Service on Sunday 7 November. It is available to download to show in your church.
Creator of our common home
Hear the cry of the earth
Our world stands in great peril
Many are suffering
We have put at risk our present and our future
through the rapid warming of the earth and the careless destruction of it’s beauty
Give to the leaders of the world fresh hope and courage
Unite us all in a common mission to heal and cherish our environment
And steward the resources of our world for future generations
May this conference be a turning point in human history
For the sake of all the peoples of the earth
Tackle your environmental footprint
Each of us can make some simple changes to reduce our own environmental footprints.
- Count Us In – suggests many steps to protect what we love by highlighting actions we can do to combat change. Also see our EcoHub Action Zone and the 10 tips there. The BBC One Show recently shared 20 suggestions for individual actions.
- The carbon footprints of our homes can be reduced by adding insulation and reducing drafts, as well as more major changes. There may be limited funding available for environmental improvements to some homes, more info here.
- Many ideas for making small but significant lifestyle changes read L is for Lifestyle by Ruth Valerio.
- St Edburg’s Eco Church Group have started a ‘Bicester Carbon Club’ where local people can meet to empower each other to reduce their carbon footprints. Perhaps your church could start something similar?
- In our church communities we can join the Parish Pathway to Net Zero, there are two first steps: Register for A Rocha’s excellent Eco Church award scheme and fill in the survey to guide further action, also start thinking about how to decarbonise your church building, you can fill in this expression of interest form for an audit or advice.
- Be inspired by action churches have taken in the Church Times Green Church Showcase. View the recording here.
Opportunities to learn more…
Individually or in a small group, you might like to watch Tearfund’s excellent series of 9 short climate talks on Christianity and Climate Change by Professor Katharine Hayhoe and discuss the questions suggested, or use Operation Noah’s Tenants of the King videos and study guide.
The Big Church Read has a helpful environmental resource for small groups or individuals ‘A Christian Guide to Environmental Issues’ by Martin and Margot Hodson. The book and discussion materials consider a range of current environmental problems, giving the biblical basis for looking after the environment and linking this to the Christian faith. This book is one of a selection of environmental books published by the Bible Reading Fellowship.
For a wealth of climate & COP26 news try the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit.
Catch up with videos of events on the COP26 YouTube channel.
TED talks held a Countdown Global launch with many recorded climate talks available and there was a TED Countdown Global Livestream on 30 October. There is also a selection of short talks from Oxford University researchers here.
The Oxford Science + Ideas Festival website has many on demand event recordings available, search the programme with the word “climate”.
St Mary’s, Burghfield has some beautiful COP26 inspired climate themed quilted panels to loan out to stimulate reflection and action. Contact us if you’d like to borrow them and we’ll pass on your message.