What is it?
The ‘twenty sixth conference of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’ (or CoP26 for short) will meet at the SEC in Glasgow from 9-19 November 2020.
Governments from around the world will be discussing action on climate change. The first CoP was in Berlin in 1995 since which time there has been 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 an agreement to set a goal of limiting global warming to well below 2 °Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels and if possible to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.
Why is this important?
As global temperatures rise so do the risks, with increasingly severe impacts, especially in tropical countries. Small island states and low lying countries are particularly at risk of sea level rise and have campaigned to limit temperature rises to 1.5 °C, a limit that without radical action will very likely be broken before mid-century.
The conference was originally intended to be in Brazil but President Bolsanaro withdrew his support and in late 2019 the UK Government offered to step in. Glasgow is one of the few venues in the UK with a large enough conference facility, the SEC, to host such an event.
Who is involved?
Representatives from all countries will be joined by campaigners, lobbyists, businesses, scientists, NGOs and the world’s media. One gap may be the USA as President Trump has committed to taking the USA out of the Paris climate agreement. Churches will be well represented by the World Council of Churches, and development agencies like Christian Aid, SCIAF and Oxfam will all have a presence. The total number of participants could be 30,000 – In a city with only 8,000 hotel bed spaces.
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 its 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 is five years on from Paris. 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?
While the diplomatic negotiations take place behind closed doors there are opportunities for churches and members of congregations to get involved, whether in Glasgow or elsewhere in Scotland. We suggest you think about three sorts of activities: worship, action and advocacy.
- Hold a service on Climate Sunday: Sunday 6 September.
- Join the Christian Aid CoP26 Prayer Chain: https://www.christianaid.org.uk/pray/prayer-chain
- Creation time 2020 runs from 1 September to 4 October . Worship resources will be posted on the ECS website soon: https://www.ecocongregationscotland.org/creation-time/
- Learn more about the CoP and climate change. The BBC provides reliable up to date information. For example: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-51134254
- Ring out a bell of warning. Can you hold a hand bell event in your church to warn of the dangers of climate change?
- Plant a tree in Scotland or a forest around the world: https://treesforlife.org.uk/groves/g8658/
- Attend an Eco-Congregation Scotland event (www.ecocongregationscotland.org)
- Calculate your Carbon Footprint https://www.ecocongregationscotland.org/news/eco-congregation-scotland-carbon-calculator/
- Tell your MP/MSP find out more at SCPO https://www.scpo.scot/meet-your-msp/
- Get involved in campaigning for the CoP https://www.stopclimatechaos.scot/
- Join the CoP26 Climate march in Glasgow 14 November 2020
Details of events and activities are just emerging. Keep in touch at www.climatefringe.org
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