What the latest science means for COP26

27 August 2021
Comments 2
Category Blog, Comment, FrontPage
27 August 2021, Comments 2

The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published in August, makes devastating reading. 1.5C temperature rise will be reached by 2040 – or even sooner.  And that will lead to more dramatic weather patterns and even faster global biodiversity loss – and with that, huge disruption to human life. In light of that, what does this mean for the commitments that must be made at COP26 in little over two months time? 

Clearly governments must make determined, decisive and life-changing decisions in light of these hard-hitting scientific findings. The cuts required to slow and eventually reverse climate change (and subsequent biodiversity loss) will mean a total change of economic systems from the fossil fuel industry. COP, therefore, must agree to much faster and steeper greenhouse gas emission cuts than the targets most countries currently have. Even if current targets are delivered – and the UK is off track for its own –  it would still leave the world heading for a totally catastrophic 3-4 degree rise in temperature above the pre-industrial average. 

According to the Make COP Count Coalition of which A Rocha UK is a member, and The Time is Now Declaration to which A Rocha UK is a signatory, the only way to achieve much steeper cuts is to end investments in fossil fuel energy. This means ending everything from exploration and extraction, to the construction of power stations and vehicles running off fossil fuels. Logically, this also means ending all use of public money to subsidise fossil fuels. 

A rapid global shift from fossil fuels will also require global cooperation on new ‘green’ technology, including large financial support packages to developing nations to enable them to install green energy as well as to adapt, where possible, to the impacts of climate change. So, COP26 must finally deliver on the long-promised $100billion a year climate finance for developing countries. 

Obviously, out of fairness and for its own credibility as the host of COP26, the UK must get its own climate policies in order. It must then join with the global community to call out those nations dragging their heels. Currently that includes Australia, India, Canada and Brazil. There needs to be clear sanction options on doing business with nations not willing to play their part. 

Given how close we are to tipping past 1.5C, there can be no place at the global table for countries unwilling to change, who prioritise national vested interests over the common good of others in their country and the wider global community.

More than ever, as Christians we need to redouble our efforts (and prayer) to make sure the UK government takes an uncompromising stance at COP26. Strong minds and steady hands will be required and just possibly the autumn summit will mark the start of real global change.  

Written by Andy Lester, Head of Conservation for our September 2021 eNews.

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The IPCC’s latest report can be found here:


2 responses on “What the latest science means for COP26


    Totally agree, Andy. I’ve been through the 40 page policymaker summary and it is dour reading indeed. Struck me we are caught between an uncomfortable future and apocolyptic one.

  2. Sue Crossley says:

    My family and I are so pleased the church is taking a v active leading role in climate change voice and actions – it is our faith to look after all god world. Very much bringing the issues central to our community .