Amidst the ongoing tragedy of the Covid-19 pandemic, the news cycle this year has been punctuated by stories of cataclysmic weather events. Extreme heat, wildfires and floods have devastated communities and environments across the world. The reality of climate change is inescapable.
What is COP26 and why does it matter?
This year is a critical one for the world to take the action necessary to avert irreversible climate catastrophe. In November, global leaders will meet in Glasgow, Scotland for COP26. The decisions they make will determine the kind of world future generations will inherit.
COP26 is the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This particular COP is especially important because it is the fifth meeting since of the historic Paris climate agreement of 2015 and as such is the first scheduled milestone for all nations to significantly increase their ambition for reducing their greenhouse gas emissions.
The latest IPCC report once again highlights the seriousness and urgency of the climate emergency. It also makes clear that taking urgent action at scale can still make a significant difference to eventual outcomes. As they released the report, the IPCC wrote, “Scientists are observing changes in the Earth’s climate in every region and across the whole climate system… Many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion—such as continued sea level rise—are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years. However, strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change.” They added that, with such action, benefits for air quality would come quickly, although it could take 20-30 years to see global temperatures stabilise.
For the first time, the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) will be an accredited observer at the UNFCCC and able to engage in different ways before, during and beyond the negotiations.
As part of the ACC’s engagement ahead of COP26, a series of three webinars is being organised in order both to increase climate literacy and climate action in the church leadership of the Anglican Communion and to equip and enthuse participants for engaging with COP26 and beyond.
Archbishop Julio Murray Thompson, the Anglican Communion’s lead primate on the environment, writes, “The timely series of webinars will build on one another and engage all levels of leadership across the Anglican Communion. I warmly encourage you to register for th[ese] webinar[s], which [are] an important milestone for the global Anglican Communion’s response to the climate crisis and a wonderful opportunity for mutual sharing, learning and action as we seek to live out the vision of the Fifth Mark of Mission: “To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth”.
Webinar 1: Monday 20 September at 0800 and 1600 UTC
The third webinar will be responsive, taking a deeper dive into issues and areas determined by participants in the first two webinars. It will hear from the Anglican delegates to COP26, evaluating the outcomes and scoping advocacy priorities and opportunities moving forward. Further details and registration links will be shared in due course.
Anglicans and COP26
The webinar series is being organised by the “equipping and enthusing Anglican leadership” subgroup of the ACC’s COP26 working group. Chaired by Archbishop Julio, the ACC COP26 working group has been meeting regularly through 2021 to plan all aspects of the ACC’s engagement with COP26. Membership of the working group is drawn from the Anglican Communion Office at the UN, the Anglican Alliance, Lambeth Palace and representatives of Networks of the Anglican Communion, including the Anglican Communion Environment Network, the Anglican Indigenous Network and the Anglican Youth Network.
The ACC has recently been accredited as an observer NGO organisation at the UNFCCC. This means that for the first time the Anglican Communion as a whole will be represented officially at the COP. This provides the Communion with a significant and privileged opportunity to bring the voices and experiences of people across the Communion into this pre-eminent global decision-making space. Accreditation allows the Anglican Communion to make formal written submissions to the UNFCCC ahead of conference and to send a delegation, which can hold meetings with government delegations.
In addition to the equipping and enthusing Anglican leadership subgroup, the ACC COP26 working group has two further work streams. One is focused on the delegation which will be at the COP and the other on policy and influencing. The small delegation of three will prioritise indigenous and youth voices and policy will focus particularly on resilience and just climate finance. Future web stories will explore these areas in more depth.
The Anglican Alliance and creation care
The Anglican Alliance exists to connect, equip and inspire the worldwide Anglican family to work for a world free of poverty and injustice and to safeguard creation. As well as the integrity of creation being at risk of collapse, environmental degradation and climate change drive poverty and inequality. Through its partners and networks, its regional facilitators and the Anglican mission and development agencies, the Anglican Alliance connects with grass roots Anglicans and development practitioners in every part of the Communion. The Alliance is able to hear and gather stories and experience, and share them with the ACOUN team, and is also able to disseminate information from the UN team to people on the ground. Our aim is to connect, equip and inspire Anglicans to make creation care a priority for action and prayer.