Cop 26, at least, recognised the importance of keeping 1.5 degrees of heating as the maximum, coal extraction and use was there for the first time, even if quibbled over, and oil and gas cannot be far behind – investors have been warned. US and China are talking, countries will meet again in a year’s time to report on action and rachet up ambition etc – so there were good things that came out of COP26 – (perhaps thirty year too late). But Greta Thunberg put it in her inimitable way `it was the Global North’s festival of greenwashing’. There were very weak outcomes on the question of `loss and damage’. Mary Robinson called the conference ` a shameful dereliction of duty’. The aim of limiting global heating to I.5 degrees is on `life support’.` Our planet is hanging by thread’ said Antonio Guttierez UN Gen Sec. Sadly small steps in the right direction are equivalent to loosing. We are currently anticipated to reach 2.4 degrees of warming. This will not avoid run away climate change as tipping points are reached. The real work for us all must continue now outside the halls.
Perhaps in some ways what happened outside the Conference Hall was more important than what agreements were reached inside. Promises made by governments are so often broken and have been in the past. (Inside there were 500 fossil fuel lobbyists, the largest delegation in the hall). Outside, groups of pilgrims began to arrive, some having walking for days or months, one lot walking in relays from Poland, groups on cycles, all praising the hospitality and welcome received on their journeys often in church halls. During the proceedings 120,000 walked through the wind and rain through Glasgow under a rainbow, one of the many that appeared during this time – a reminder of the covenant of God with all creation. There were young, old, faith based organisations, indigenous people, NGOs , activists, united as civil society from all over the world, in their hope and demand for a liveable future. There were vigils, prayer services, pilgrimages, a common experience of unity, purpose and hope. As one young person put it ` it restored my faith in people coming together’. Ultimately a grass roots tipping point may galvanise a just transition from the bottom up more than all the COPs, but both are needed. But undoubtedly the climate movement is bigger and bolder, and more aware than ever before.
It was also a turning point for the FOSSIL Fuel proliferation Treaty which became spotlighted. This is led by Tzeporah Berman and aims for countries to sign up in order to decarbonise justly. Another important initiative was Costa Rica and Denmark’s initiative `Beyond Oil and Gas’.
`I think we have to start by embracing how terrifying this is and how disappointing it is that this is all human caused’ said Rabbi Shmuly Yankowitz. In the face of this the coming together of the world faiths is a beautiful offshoot of the crisis we are in.
It has been estimated that 80% of people on this planet relate to a religion or belief. Faiths have been pulling together recognising the interrelatedness of all creation of which we are a part, and the givenness of it for the good of us and all creatures. This is contrasts to nation states which so often act in their national interest rather than for the common good of all least of all the most vulnerable.
On Oct 4th just before COP 26 there was an unprecedented meeting of all the faith leaders, convened by Pope Francis, which resulted in an impressive common declaration including the call to support vulnerable nations – this was not realised adequately at COP 26, as Mohamed Adow, Director of Powershift Africa, said `the outcome reflects the priorities of the rich world’. Faith groups must now continue their work, their advocacy, and using all their educational resources; they must accompany the young in their eco grief and climate anxiety, with lamentation for loss of species, habitats, they must care for the vulnerable, help indigenous voices to be heard, help us all towards true ecological conversion and cultivate gratitude and wonder for our fragile planet, our earth and the first revelation of God. They must work with others, all people of goodwill. They, or rather we, must embrace a radical love of neighbour and neighbourhood which needs to include calling for debt cancellation, and a new economic model and the importance of political integrity working for the common good. « Without debt relief and no concrete commitment on climate finance in the form of grants, the objective of the COP26 will not be achieved. » Abu Bakkar from the Budget Advocacy Network, Sierra Leone, reminded us. We must all work together on all levels
In the words of the Faith Declaration of Oct 4th` We have inherited a garden, we must not leave a desert to our children’. `We must pray that our human family may unite to save our common home before it is too late’.
Jessica Gatty, ra