Nearly a fortnight has passed since COP26 ended in Glasgow. And, whilst some welcome agreements were reached, the outcomes of the conference on the whole fell short of what was needed to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees.
In the wake of this, we’ve urged the UK government to show moral leadership and to take bolder action at home on the climate crisis after COP26. With countries needing to ramp up their pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions within a year - by COP27 - it is urgent that rich countries step up their domestic action before then to be in a position to commit more internationally (take a look at how Churches and organisations have responded here).
The UK’s hosting of COP26 has proved a catalyst for churches’ engagement with climate action across Britain and Ireland. More than 2,200 churches have held climate focused church services, committed to practical action in their local communities, and speaking up on climate issues over the last year. For many congregations, Climate Sunday represented the first time they had taken action on the climate crisis.
Andy Atkins, Chair of Climate Sunday and CEO of A Rocha UK said:
“It is vital that we see COP26 not as the end of global efforts to avoid climate catastrophe, but as a step along the way, with much more yet to be done. Churches have much to offer to address this challenge, and we must use all of our assets - buildings, land, local influence and national voice - to respond. Collectively, churches participating in Climate Sunday have accomplished much, but we have only just begun.”
The broad coalition of denominations and organisations this has brought together have celebrated everything that has been achieved throughout the campaign. But we’re also urging churches not to stop here.
Churches can and should keep going on their commitments to environmental action, and to continue to put pressure on the UK government to deliver on its climate responsibilities.
Hannah Brown, Campaigns and Church Engagement Officer at the Joint Public Issues Team, said:
“We know that the journey ahead as we transition to net-zero across the world will not be easy. We are grateful that church communities across Britain and Ireland have been part of enabling the legacy of COP26 to be more than a negotiated outcome, but also a transformation of grassroots churches’ engagement in climate action”.
At COP26, Climate Sunday hosted a stall in the green zone, showcasing these commitments made by churches over the course of the campaign. This formed part of the wider events taking place at the COP, which all contributed towards pushing negotiations towards success. Whilst there is still further to go, it was vital that faith voices were present in this space. You can even see how the COP26 cabinet office team have celebrated this here.
Reverend Judith Morris, General Secretary of Baptist Union of Wales said:
“We give heartfelt thanks for what has been achieved over the past two weeks at COP 26: for new agreements and for the ways in which so many from the faith communities have joined together to create such a positive momentum for the care of our planet and its future. We pray that all agreements - and more - will be honoured recognising that in order to ensure a good tomorrow our work continues today with no room for procrastination”.
What next? How you can take action
If COP26 is not the end of the journey but simply the next step, how can churches continue to be involved?
It’s crucial that we keep up the pressure on the UK Government to support the aims of limiting global warming to 1.5°c. The UK government will continue to hold the COP presidency and be stewards of the Glasgow Climate Pact until COP27, and therefore will play a key role in steering nations to meet the targets set at COP26.
2 minutes? Sign the card
Boris Johnson spoke some strong words about climate change at COP26 – but will the UK government follow through? When it comes to climate action, the proof is in the pudding.
Send the Prime Minister a Christmas card this year asking him to ensure that the promises made at COP26 are kept, or increase your impact by adding your name to the giant card which will be delivered to No. 10 Downing Street.
Sign the card here: https://www.theclimatecoalition.org/christmascard
10 minutes? Write to your MP
It’s crucial that our MPs know that, as people of faith, we are still energised to push forward to more ambitious change for the climate. Could you write to your MP using the Climate Coalition’s template letter, to ask them to ‘keep 1.5°c alive’?
Find the template letter and write to your MP now: https://www.theclimatecoalition.org/take-action.
Want to know more? Join our webinar
On Thursday 20 January at 7pm, join the Climate Sunday team for ‘Climate Sunday: What next?’. We’ll celebrate everything that Climate Sunday has achieved as a project, and look towards the future. We’ll be exploring the best next steps churches and individuals can take to continue to work towards climate justice .
Sign up for the webinar here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/3416371481178/WN_-e-03k0NQveinOz-l82fOA
Now, more than ever, we need to make sure that we continue to play our part in responding to the climate crisis.
You can read a press release from Climate Sunday following COP26 (including full quotes from all four nations involved) here.