Ahead of COP26 in November 2021, the interfaith initiative Make COP Count gathered faith leaders and parliamentarians together to explore the role of faith communities in encouraging an ambitious and effective climate summit, in partnership with the all-party parliamentary groups (APPG) on Climate Change and the APPG on Faith and Society.
Members of Parliament, Peers and faith representatives explored faith’s key priorities, listened to lived experience of global communities on the front line of the crisis and focused on next steps, including the need for action on loss and damage financing.
Top 5 things we learnt…
1. Faith groups have a history of driving political change, and can build on this to challenge the climate crisis.
Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP, the Chair of the APPG on Faith and Society, pointed to the rich history of campaigns such as Make Poverty History and the Jubilee Debt campaign to remind us that faith groups have used their power to build political consensus for change in the past, and can do this again for radical climate action.
2. Faith groups share key values that underpin their push for climate justice.
Dr Jagbir Jhutti-Johal, Trustee of Faith for the Climate, highlighted that different faiths groups all share the core values of equality, fairness, compassion and justice, a key part of the reason that across the world they have been some of the first to recognise and act on the seriousness of climate breakdown.
3. Loss and damage financing is more needed than ever as other avenues of supporting communities impacted by climate breakdown become less feasible.
Enamul Mazid Khan Siddique, Head of Climate Justice and Natural Resource Rights at Oxfam in Bangladesh, explained that severe flooding is forcing Bangladeshis to flee to Europe as previously feasible adaption strategies such as climate risk insurance are no longer financially viable. He informed us that commitments on loss and damage at COP26 would be a major step to prevent this.
4. Faith groups should prioritise amplifying the stories of frontline communities impacted by climate breakdown.
Gareth Quity, Project Coordinator of PACCCIL at Oxfam in the Solomon Islands, explained that for many Solomon Islanders, tropical cyclones and rising seas have destroyed their homes and forced them to relocate, in the process destroying aspects of their culture, traditions and livelihoods. He urged faith groups to prioritise amplifying the voices of the communities most affected by climate breakdown, such as Solomon Islanders experiencing displacement, to ensure that those most affected are involved in the design of new loss and damage mechanisms.
5. Faith groups and Parliamentarians need to keep working together to campaign for action on loss and damage.
Dr Caroline Lucas, MP and Chair of the APPG on Climate Change, reiterated the importance of delivery on loss and damage, arguing it needs additional finance rather than adaption or mitigation. She urged faith groups to continue to pressure Parliamentarians for action on this, and encouraged MPs to continue to work closely with faith groups.
How can we be part of Make COP count ahead of COP26?
The Make COP Count coalition is a network of representatives from faith communities with a shared focus on advocacy, hospitality and consciousness-raising ahead of COP26. Together we hold a common belief that the global response to the climate crisis has to be rooted in justice and human rights, with loss and damage action as an essential element of this.
Alongside JPIT, a variety of faith groups are represented within Make COP Count, including the Church of England, Eco Congregation Scotland, the Eco Dharma Network, Eco-Sikh UK, Eco Synagogue, Faith for the Climate, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Hindu Climate Action, Islamic Relief UK and Quakers in Britain.
Make COP Count has two key priorities for COP26: ending fossil fuel subsidies and establishing a new finance facility for loss and damage. Loss and damage refers to the impact that climate breakdown is having on people right now. It includes the loss of lives, livelihoods, homes, cultures, traditions and habitats.
To find out more about Make COP Count, why not have a look at their website – makecopcount.org. or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As Christians, we believe that care for God’s creation is a central call of our faith. By joining together with other Christians alongside wider faith groups, we can call for change that improves the lives of our neighbours, be they nearby or far away.
A prayer ahead of COP26 –
Thank you for the world you have made,
where there is space and resource for each of us to flourish if we learn to share well.
Help us love our neighbours,
wherever they may call home.
We lift up to you our world leaders as COP26 approaches,
and ask you give them guidance to make wise choices and ambitious commitments.
Thank you for the ways your Church has fought for those most affected by the climate crisis,
embolden us to call for change with their needs at heart.
We pray for more of your kingdom to come,
where there is justice for all.
COP26 is the 26th annual UN Climate Change Conference, the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). It’s going to be held in Glasgow, Scotland this November. To find out more about COP26 and JPIT’s work on it, look here.