Our growing Convening programme has many strands and in 2021 a common focus for most was the UN Climate Conference, COP26, which the UK government hosted in November. In 2022 we have much to do to follow up on the results of that massive and complex international event as the outcomes of COP26 will ultimately depend on what happens next.
This is why. The conference failed to deliver on two of its most important objectives: commitments which would keep global warming at 1.5 degrees and long promised climate finance for countries most keenly impacted by the effects of climate change. Nevertheless, the Glasgow Climate Pact – the agreement signed at COP26 – is something that we can build on, and signals movement in the right direction on both of these issues. Significantly, it agreed that national pledges would be reviewed again in a year, not five years as originally planned, raising the importance of COP27 in Egypt as the next big moment to hold world leaders accountable for their emissions targets.
Very significantly too, as the UK government remains as the COP President right up until COP27. Therefore, the church and wider UK civil society continues to have a unique role to play over the next 10 months in holding our government, as stewards of the agreement, accountable for the implementation and scaling up of emissions pledges to avoid catastrophic climate change.
In 2022, At A Rocha UK we will be doing our utmost to help Christians and Churches take effective action, practically and through using their voice. A key priority is to deliver a strong end to the Climate Sunday campaign, working with our coalition partners. Over the last two years over 2,200 Climate Sunday services have been registered, showing the huge commitment from churches to engage with climate issues, to do more in their own communities to reduce emissions, and to use their voice to tell the UK government that the time is now for decisive action to protect the planet. We’ll be celebrating what’s been achieved and signposting churches where they can go next at the closing webinar on 20 January, You can register [here].
We will also be working with other Christian NGOs and denominations through the Churches Environmental Issues Network to establish a united view on priority issues to campaign on in 2022 in the run-up to COP27, while the UK government still holds the COP Presidency. Key contenders are for the UK to cease all fossil fuel exploration and development in UK territory and to reverse its aid cuts and find much more finance to compensate poor countries for the loss and damage they are already suffering from climate change.
Finally, we will be building on our work with the international A Rocha family, on nature based solutions (NBS) to the climate crisis. In 2021, we published a joint position paper on this issue, distilling our collective thinking on how nature can provide solutions to cutting and storing carbon. The restoration of ‘carbon sinks’ found in nature – such as forests and wetlands – would be a joint win for the climate and biodiversity crises. Our aim in 2022 is to gather case studies of A Rocha projects from around the world to demonstrate what is possible, and use these to inspire more action at grass roots level as well as to influence international bodies in their thinking. Read more about that here.
Please do pray for our small Convening team as they work in collaboration with others to build fast in 2022 on both the successes and disappointments of COP26.