We knew that COP26 this would be a huge opportunity for civil society to put pressure on the UK government to act boldly in the face of the climate crisis.
With this in mind, back in 2020 A Rocha UK helped set up Climate Sunday, a broad coalition of Christian denominations and organisations across Britain and Ireland with a vision of mobilising churches to take action in this critical year. We encouraged churches to hold climate-focused services, to commit to long term environmental action in their communities, and to ask the UK government to pursue climate justice and the restoration of nature as the UK set the agenda for COP26.
The initiative has deepened churches engagement with climate issues and an incredible number of more than 2,300 churches have registered a Climate Sunday Service and many have also committed to action such as advancing in Eco Church. At COP26 itself, a Climate Sunday Exhibition stall encouraged visiting christians to explore their contribution to this urgent and challenging issue. We’ll close the campaign in the new year with a webinar on 20 January to guide participating churches on what they can do next.
During 2021 we have also worked closely with our wider A Rocha family on COP26. A delegation made up of staff from national A Rocha organisations in Ghana, Canada, France, and the UK, as well as A Rocha International, went to COP26 in Glasgow as NGO observers to the negotiations. Nature and biodiversity loss were on the agenda at this COP26 in an unprecedented way, with recognition that addressing climate change will require protecting the world’s remaining forests and other ‘carbon sinks’ such as wetlands and grasslands, and restoring these at scale.
In the lead up to Glasgow, A Rocha UK facilitated a process in which the international family distilled our thinking on nature based solutions to the climate crisis into a joint position paper which can be found here. And we supported the delegation at COP26, providing direction on how to engage effectively with such a complex event, and day to day coordination, as well as media capacity. One success was getting a media profile, including an influential BBC World Service interview (from 31 minutes here), for the threat to the Atewa forest in Ghana, where A Rocha Ghana is leading the campaign to cancel government plans for a bauxite mine.
The UK remains the host of the COP presidency until COP27 in Egypt, making it critical for churches and individuals across the UK to continue to campaign and ensure that commitments made in the Glasgow Climate Pact in November are implemented and built upon in 2022 and beyond.
A Rocha UK’s Convening programme will be working with partners in Climate Sunday and the worldwide A Rocha family to build fast on the outcomes of COP26, supporting churches in the UK and our sister organisations overseas, to take effective follow-up action. Sign up to our eNews here for further announcements.
Image: Churches commitments on climate change presented to No.10 ahead of COP26. Photo by: Thom Flint/CAFOD