COP26: What is it?
The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (or COP26 for short) will take place at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November 2021. Since the first COP in Berlin in 1995 there has painstaking progress towards international agreement. Getting every country in the world to sign up to life changing commitments is not easy but in Paris in 2015 (COP21) there was agreement to try to limit global warming to 1.5°Celsius above pre-industrial levels and not to allow it to go above 2°C.
Why is the COP important?
As global temperatures rise so do the range of risks and their severity, particularly for tropical countries which are already suffering terrible loss and damage. The impacts often fall most heavily on women and children and those already living in poverty. People living in small island states and low lying countries are at risk with rising sea levels and have campaigned to limit temperature rises to 1.5°C. Without radical action temperature rises of over 1.5°C will very likely happen by mid-century.
Who is involved?
Diplomatic representatives from all countries will be joined by campaigners, lobbyists, businesses, scientists, NGOs and the world’s media. Faith groups campaigning for climate justice will be well represented including the Holy See, World Council of Churches, Lutheran World Federation, development agencies through ACT Alliance, CIDSE and representatives of other faith groups. A growing concern is the impact of Covid travel restrictions on the participation of countries with low vaccination rates – often the countries most at risk from climate change. Without full international participation the credibility of the conference is at risk.
What is up for decision?
Expect to hear a lot about mitigation (reducing emissions), adaptation to the changing climate and loss and damage. The Paris Agreement (2015) set out a mechanism to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Every country prepared a plan (called a nationally determined contribution or NDC) setting out its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. NDCs are revised and strengthened every five years with CoP26 seeing the first revision. Unless the current NDCs are strengthened it will be very impossible to limit global warming to 2°C let alone 1.5°C.
How can we get involved?
Churches around Scotland are involved creating opportunities for everyone across Scotland, not just in Glasgow, before, during and after the COP. Faith groups are working with Climate Fringe to promote hospitality and transformation; to be good hosts to those coming to the COP; to listen and to learn from them; and from this to seek to change our lives, churches, the places we live, economy and action by our governments. Follow the links below for more details.
Reflection, Learning, Prayer and Worship
The Glasgow Multi Faith Declaration and the Scottish Religious Leaders commitment set out our commitment and call upon governments to take action.
Glasgow Churches Together are encouraging churches across the city to get involved.
Climate Sunday encourages all congregations to address climate change in worship, action and advocacy. Sign up and get involved!
Creation Time 2021 offers wonderful resources from Eco Congregation Scotland and others around the world.
Join others in prayer, for example the Global Climate Justice Prayer Chain.
Climate pilgrims are coming to Glasgow: the Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN) are walking from the G7 conference in Cornwall, Art and Ecology from Dunbar, and pilgrims from Sweden and Germany are walking from the ferry terminal at North Shields from 12 October. All are looking for help and support in their journey to the COP – you can get involved!
There is a critical shortage of accommodation for our guests: can you offer accommodation during COP? Join the Homestay Network. Register your hall or office with Spaces for Change.
Sign the Scottish Churches COP26 Pledge to support fossil divestment and a just and green recovery.
Listen to stories from around the world and share your own. Eco Congregation Scotland encourages you to hold a Conversation about the Climate Emergency. Interfaith Scotland shares resources from faith groups around the world.
Hold a climate event or activity in your place of worship or hall. Ring out a bell for climate justice!
Join Eco-Congregation Scotland or Scottish Interfaith Week events online. If you are organising your own event relating to climate or sustainability, please add it to the Climate Fringe.
Take action in your church buildings. The Church of Scotland and other denominations are committed to ‘net zero carbon emissions’. Go to 360°carbon.org a collaborative carbon footprint calculator for churches.
Campaigns and Advocacy
Join the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice on 6 November!
Meet your MSP and your MP to tell them about your concerns and your plans.
Make COP Count is a UK campaign of faith groups calling for radical action on climate justice.
Get involved with development agency campaigns like Christian Aid, SCIAF or Tearfund.
Keep in touch at Eco-Congregation Scotland, Climate Sunday and Climate Fringe.
Adrian Shaw, Eco-Congregation Scotland, September 2021