Why COP26 is key - Part 2

What makes you hopeful ahead of COP26?

 There have been some encouraging signs recently. China has recently announced some quite ambitious carbon reductions commitments, which sets a good precedent for other countries ahead of COP26. The US also has a new government, which should aid climate negotiations because President Biden's administration comes with quite a different perspective to the previous one. The US, like China, is such a huge player in terms of carbon emissions and international negotiations generally. So the fact that President Biden has recommitted to the Paris agreement is really positive. However, a recent UN report found that current national climate plans (Nationally Determined Contributions) would reduce emissions by less than 1% between 2010 and 2030. We know we need global emissions to be cut by almost half by 2030 - so this is a huge gap! We need these hopeful signs to turn into even greater action.  

Casting a vision, what would be the best outcome from COP26?

Climate ambition that gets us on track to 1.5℃ and which puts the poorest and most vulnerable at the centre. This isn’t just about commitments but also action.  At the summit, decisions around a carbon market and climate finance will be part of making this ambition a reality.

A key success for us as Renew Our World would be that the voices of countries that are particularly vulnerable to and most impacted by the climate crisis are most heard, that the conversation isn't just held or driven by larger economies. In some ways, the shift to working online during the pandemic creates opportunities to hear from voices that are often silenced which is exciting. But connectivity can be a challenge. If some - or even all - of the negotiations end up moving online, there is a risk that the voices of those most affected by climate change will be excluded. Whatever form the negotiations take, it’s vital that the messages from those affected are put at the centre of ambitious climate commitments and action.

What is important for us, the global Christian community, to know and do ahead of COP?

A key goal for us is that we as a movement of Christians have covered this conference in prayer because prayer is powerful! The key things to be praying for are that government leaders put forward bold and ambitious climate plans and green recoveries that are aligned with those climate plans. Also be praying that leaders are ready to do climate diplomacy and to be open to working together. And that governments not only say the right things, but put the policies and practices in place that deliver on their commitments to emissions reduction and a green pandemic recovery.

It is also important to recognise that there are other key moments throughout the year in the lead up to COP, like the G7 and Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in June, and the G20 in October. All of those moments are opportunities for countries and leaders to be signaling the right level of ambition and willingness to negotiate. So prayer and action around these events are also important.

COP itself is a significant moment to be mobilising the Church to act and pray, and the great thing about a global movement like Renew Our World is that we can collectively support 20 countries in speaking to our own governments and encouraging ambitious climate plans on almost every continent across the globe. 

Let’s join together in holding our governments accountable for setting bold climate plans and praying for significant progress in line with the Paris climate agreement ahead of COP26 this November.

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