The world’s eyes will soon be focused on Glasgow, Scotland as world leaders gather for COP26, the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Our accompanying piece sets out the particular importance of COP26 and how global faith leaders have been speaking into it. In this piece we look at why COP26 matters to Anglicans and how the Anglican Communion will be engaging with it.
Creation care is at the heart of Anglican identity At the heart of Anglican identity, as we proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom in word and deed, is the mandate to respond to human need by loving service; to transform unjust structures of society, challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation; and to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth. This holistic engagement with the world, expressed in the Anglican Marks of Mission, reflects Jesus’ mission to bring good news to the poor, release to the oppressed and abundant life for all. [Luke 4:18 and John 10:10]
Climate change impacts and responses across the Communion People across the Anglican Communion are on the frontline of the climate emergency. They are experiencing the devastating impacts of both acute climate shocks (such as hurricanes and wildfires) and slow onset disasters (such as shrinking water resources and rising sea levels).
The significance of COP26 It is no exaggeration to say that the integrity of creation is under threat and at risk of collapse. The life systems of the earth are under severe strain from the triple crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.
The global response to the climate crisis has been wholly inadequate—both in the level of resources dedicated to the response and the level of urgency with which those with most power to make radical changes are taking action. COP26 is an important opportunity to correct these collective failings. It is a milestone that will determine what kind of world future generations will inherit.
What has COP26 got to do with Anglicans? The Anglican Communion – as the Anglican Consultative Council – has recently gained accreditation as an Observer Non-Governmental Organisation to the UNFCCC. There has been Anglican presence at previous COPs, but accreditation means that, for the first time, the Anglican Communion as a whole can participate and it provides the Communion with opportunities which have not been available before. These include making formal written submissions and having an Anglican Communion delegation attend the COP, which can holding meetings with government delegations. It means we can be in the room and bring the voices and experience of Anglicans across the Communion into this pre-eminent global decision-making space on climate change. This is a significant opportunity, which the ACC’s COP26 working group is working hard to make the most of.
Anglican Communion engagement with COP26 Throughout 2021, the ACC’s COP26 working group has delivered three work streams: equipping and enthusing Anglican leadership for climate action; policy and influencing; identifying and preparing the delegation.
The working group’s membership is drawn from the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, Anglican Indigenous Network, Anglican Youth Network, Anglican Alliance, Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations. As such the group seeks to be representative of the Communion and accountable to it.
Equip and enthuse Anglican leadership An ongoing series of webinars has been the principal offering to equip and enthuse Anglican leadership on the climate emergency. These have been complemented by the Climate Emergency hub on the Anglican Alliance website and several written pieces.
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