Youth activists, Indigenous people, and parents marking the end of COP26. Photo credit: Duncan McGlynn/AP for AVAAZ
COP26 resulted in modest progress towards reducing climate pollution this decade and, to a lesser extent, to increase support vulnerable communities. Alongside the international negotiations themselves, COP26 was the chosen forum for a number of very positive announcements by groups of countries, or by countries and non-State actors together.
However, the world has a great deal further to go and there's not much time. Many activists, especially those from Indigenous communities and low-income, climate-impacted countries are left deeply disappointed. Even if all pledges are implemented, we remain on track for 1.8–2.6˚C, and keeping warming to 1.5˚C hangs by a fine thread.
Photo credit: Julie-Anne Richards
For this summary, we have drawn from a report by our our friends in Climate Action Network Australia who are at COP26. It could rightly be said that much depends on pledges being acted on and, even then, they fall short of what is needed. However, the first week saw many encouraging announcements and pledges from world leaders - a major slowing of deforestation, a methane pledge and, for the first time, signalling the phasing out of coal if the pledges come to fruition.
(Read past this article for opportunities for prayer and meditation, and for hearing reflections from people of faith at COP26.)
A letter from the Right Rev'd Keith Joseph to the Anglican Diocese of North Queensland
I am writing this e-mail from the Torres Strait, having spent the previous weekend at Pormpuraaw in the Cape York Peninsula. It is in these places that the impacts of climate change are undoubtedly being seen. It is not just rising sea levels, but also the increased heat, the changing of seasons, the effects on wildlife. When the scientific consensus is that we are in serious danger; when the conservative British Prime Minister Boris Johnson describes us as facing doomsday; and when other radicals such as the Queen are urging action on climate change NOW; we can no longer hide from the obvious dangers of human induced climate change.
(This article has links to opportunities for join others in prayer and meditation.)
Very Rev'd Dr Peter Catt, Fr Peter Moore and ARRCC supporters in Brisbane. Credit: Peter Branjerdporn
Faith communities across Australia have held vigils on Monday, 18th October, outside the offices of Members of Parliament, including that of the Prime Minister. Their unified call was for Australia to take stronger climate policies to the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, especially a stronger target for the year 2030.
A group of 50 people, including a dozen clergy of various faiths and Catholic Religious, rang bells and held a liturgy outside the office of Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Groups from various faiths also held vigils outside the offices of other MPs, some Coalition and some Labor. They included Nationals Leader Barnaby Joyce, Trevor Evans in the seat of Brisbane and Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, Warren Entsch.
Part of a global multi-faith ‘day of action’ which spanned over two days, over 440 multi-faith events were held in 43 countries. With a unified message about protecting the earth, they were held in places as different from each other as New York and Nairobi, Lilongwe in Malawi and London, some with corporate targets such as BlackRock and others challenging deforestation.
Over six hundred people of faith from around Australia have penned hand-written letters calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to do more to protect the climate. After the recent high profile scientific warnings and before the United Nations Climate Summit in Glasgow, people of faith are pleading with the Prime Minister to act now and act vigorously on a plan to reduce our climate pollution.
The letters were collected and sent this week by the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC). They are calling on the Morrison Government to submit higher emissions reduction targets to negotiations in Glasgow, re-start contributions to the United Nations Green Climate Fund and abandon a ‘gas-led recovery’ in favour of job creation in low carbon industries.
Image of Scott Morrison after release of IPCC Report, gratefully borrowed from ABC News site
When does a government’s effort to put its best foot forward veer into misrepresenting the truth? Having written heart-felt pleas for ambitious climate policies, people of faith have been receiving replies from Prime Minister Scott Morrison and their local Members which could flummox the average voter.
How much truth is in the ‘spin’? Have environmentalists been unduly alarmed at Australia’s poor performance on reducing greenhouse gas pollution? Catherine and David Rossiter are pro bono Christian researchers, members of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC), who have done a careful analysis of one of the Prime Minister’s letters received in June, 2021.
They find no evidence of a ‘strong track record of setting, achieving and exceeding our commitments’. Indeed, they write that the sixth Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC) Report released in August actually ‘ranks Australia near the bottom of the list in terms of effective action’.
Churches call for climate ambition ahead of COP26
Senior Churches spokesperson, Bishop Philip Huggins, has described the United Nations COP26 climate talks as possibly the “last chance to save our planet” in a strongly worded letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison. He joined those who are calling on Mr Morrison to take “leadership” by announcing more ambitious emissions reduction targets and to do this well ahead of the summit in November.
Bishop Huggins is President of the National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) which includes most of the nation’s Churches, and is connected with the World Council of Churches and world-wide Anglican Communion.
(pictured: Bishop Philip Huggins near Meditation Vigil outside Treasurer's office, Global Multi-Faith Day of Action 11th March)
The GreenFaith International Network (GFI) is organising a Sacred People, Sacred Earth Year of Action around a series of 10 Demands which represent a moral and spiritual compact between people and planet. These demands prioritize the urgency of the climate crisis and the steps which must be taken to solve it. In the following pages we share these demands, each accompanied by a brief story of a grassroots action on 11 March and more information about why action is necessary in the struggle for global climate and environmental justice.
You can experience the energy and passion of these actions by watching this short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_1coxKJOR8&t=12s.
GFI is planning its next day of action in late 2021, before the November United Nations climate negotiations. We hope you’ll get involved! Watch www.sacredpeoplesacredearth.org for more information.
May this resource be a blessing.
Sacred People Sacred Earth is the biggest-ever faith-climate justice day of action globally in support of the boldest-ever set of demands from diverse religious partners. Hundreds of local events are being held on 11th March, at 11 am in varying time zones - this is the eleventh hour for action to address the worsening climate emergency.
As a global, multi-faith, grassroots alliance, we stand for equity and compassion for all, and we deplore injustice. We know that we cannot afford to wait for governments and financial institutions to act first; we understand that change starts with us. We are organizing grassroots people of diverse religions in support of a set of demands for climate justice, and we are leading by example.
Here is the statement and bold demands that grassroots faith communities around the world have developed, and we're providing opportunities for people of diverse faiths and spiritualities everywhere to get involved.
Chief Standing Bear of the Ponca, Nebraska, whose statue is in the Capitol building. Artist: Benjamin Victor, 2019
ARRCC is proud to be a member of the global United Religions Initiative which has issued this statement.
We, at the United Religions Initiative, share concern and grief following the violence that took place at the United States Capitol on Wednesday, January 6th, 2021. During a Joint Session of Congress to certify the Electoral College's results for President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, hundreds of rioters stormed the chambers and offices of the US Capitol, resulting in the injuries of dozens, the death of five people, and a nation whose framework for democracy hangs in the balance. We unequivocally condemn these attacks and any attempt to undermine the voice and integrity of a united and free people.