FAITH groups have brought the voice of more than 150,000 people to the COP26 summit in Glasgow at a special handing-in of petition signatures and paper “prayer boats” to the COP presidency.
The messages called on political leaders at the summit to put in place legislation and policies that would limit warming to 1.5ºC, deliver on existing climate-finance commitments for people already the worst affected by climate change, and shift investment from fossil fuels to sustainable and renewable energy.
The handing-in was at a service in St George’s Tron Church, Glasgow. The organisations represented included Act Alliance, CAFOD, and Christian Aid.
The Revd Dr Rachel Mash, of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, said: “Let justice roll down like rivers. At COP26, we call on the global community to prioritise the call for climate justice. We call for a just transition from fossil fuels, which not only contribute to climate change, but also to environmental degradation, pollution of scarce water supplies, and the abuse of the rights of rural and indigenous people. At COP26, the window of opportunity is narrowing to avert a bleak and barren future for the generations to come.”
Jen Morris, of the Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN), said: “The climate crisis is both a symptom and a cause of global injustice, with the world’s poorest paying the heaviest price for the actions of the richest. YCCN is calling on the UK Government to put people before bank balances and use its role as hosts of COP26 to push for urgent action on climate finance.”
The voices of young people were to the fore on Friday, when thousands marched through central Glasgow as part of the Fridays For Future movement, inspired by the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who was at the rally.
The Christian conservation network A Rocha has published a briefing paper providing recommendations to governments at COP26 on including nature-based solutions in their national climate plans, and ensuring that local indigenous communities are fully involved in the planning.
The CEO of A Rocha UK, Andy Atkins, said: “Conservation cannot succeed through imposed, top-down approaches. To be long-lasting, indigenous peoples and local communities must be empowered to drive conservation and nature regeneration on their own lands. Yet all too often they are excluded from global negotiations. Agreements being made at COP26 will simply founder without the owners and custodians of the land being fully involved.”
The Revd Dr Neddy Astudillo, a Venezuelan-American Presbyterian pastor, works with Green Faith, an environmental campaigning organisation. She said the part that indigenous people could play was vital in tackling climate change and caring for creation: “As women of faith born in the global South, we’ve seen multinational corporations take advantage of our natural resources, bribe our governments, steal land from indigenous and small farmers. We know first-hand the human-rights violations that accompany coal, oil, gas, and agribusiness expansion.
”We watch wealthy countries refusing to make good on the climate funding they promise. We see our own governments failing to enforce laws that should protect their own people. In the face of such hardship, faith sustains our communities. We will not stop until we see a world governed by compassion, love, and justice.”
Talks continue at the summit over the weekend, but Saturday’s global day of action is expected to dominate the news, as thousands are expected to march in Glasgow, London, and around the world to urge the leaders at the summit to deliver a strong outcome.
Joe Ware is Senior Climate Journalist for Christian Aid.