COP26: What is it?
The 26th UN Climate Change Conference (or COP26 for short) will take place Covid restrictions permitting 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. The total number of participants travelling to Glasgow depends on Covid related travel restrictions and the event may take place in part online.
What is up for decision?
The Paris Agreement (2015) set out a mechanism to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Each country has to prepare a plan (called nationally determined contribution or NDC) to set out how it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. NDCs have to be revised and strengthened every five years and the Glasgow COP sees the first revision. Unless the commitments in the current NDCs are strengthened and put into effect urgently there is no hope of limiting global warming to 2°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 Scottish Religious Leaders commitment is an important commitment by all major faith groups in Scotland. How can you help take it forward?
Climate Sunday encourages all congregations to address climate change in worship, action and advocacy. Sign up and get involved!
View thought provoking sermons and worship ideas from the Eco Congregation Scotland Environmental Chaplain David Coleman on YouTube
Join others in prayer, for example the Global Climate Justice Prayer Chain.
Pilgrimage will be a big theme: the Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN) are walking from the G7 conference in Cornwall, Art and Ecology from Dunbar, and groups from Sweden and Germany are also being planned. All are looking for help and support in their journey to the COP – you can get involved!
Sign the Scottish Churches COP26 Pledge to support fossil divestment and a just and green recovery.
Ring out a bell for climate justice!
A powerful way to encourage change is in talking, listening and sharing stories. Eco-Congregation Scotland encourage you to hold a Conversation about the Climate Emergency. Interfaith Scotland shares resources from faith groups around the world.
Hold an event or activity in your place of worship or hall. Register with Spaces for Change.
Can you offer accommodation to a guest during the COP? Join the COP26 Homestay Network.
Join Eco-Congregation Scotland or Interfaith Scotland 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.
With Scottish Parliament elections in May 2021 tell your new MSP (and your MP) about your concerns and your plans: https://www.scpo.scot/meet-your-msp/
Make COP Count is a new interfaith campaign of faith groups with events around the UK.
Get involved with development agency campaigns like Christian Aid, SCIAF or Tearfund
Keep in touch at www.climatefringe.org
Keep in touch!
Please sign up now for the Eco-Congregation Scotland newsletter and Climate Fringe mailing list to keep in touch with developments throughout this year.
Adrian Shaw, Eco-Congregation Scotland, June 2021