Taking the voices of climate change to COP21

25 November 2015

Today I, along with 6 others, begin my pilgrimage by bicycle to the UN climate summit in Paris.

The Anglican Alliance has been collecting voices from the Communion of those who live in fragile communities experiencing the realities of the changing climate.

Voices from the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Brazil, the West Indies.

Ordinary people saying how the climate has changed where they live and the impact that has had on their day-to-day lives.

Ordinary people asking world leaders to take specific action.

Voices like those of Ahmed from Bangladesh, who describes with conviction and obvious distress how the waters come further and further into his village every year.

“We can no longer hold back the floods, we no longer know when the water is coming, but we know for sure it will come. We cannot grow enough food and the children from our village are going hungry.”

 Voices of real people, who need those with power to make decisions that are for everybody rather than just for the few.

“Help us, help us, we are simple people, all we want is to be able to provide for our children. Please don’t forget us.”

 If we’re not careful the voices that are heard at the talks could be heavily biased towards people in the Global North. Yet the Alliance hears repeatedly that those most impacted by the changing climate are people like Ahmed in fragile costal communities from the Global South. And we want, in some way, to have those voices heard and listened to.

Thus, I am making this journey to take these voices symbolically to the heart of the talks.

I pray that whilst travelling God will reveal new and old ways that the Alliance can play its part in ensuring that no one in the world goes hungry because of the climate.

It is also a personal journey for me. I’m going vegetarian for the journey after learning about the impact that livestock make on the environment.

I fly quite a lot and whilst we at the Alliance may well be planting trees and off-setting our carbon I feel it is right for me to spend some days contemplating and praying about how I can reduce my impact on the environment.

There is much fear and uncertainty since the recent terrorist attacks, yet many are choosing to still make their way to Paris.

COP21 coincides with the beginning of Advent, a time when the Church anticipates the birth of Christ, the light of the world.

As world leaders gather in Paris, we invite people throughout the Communion to pray together for an outcome that reflects Christ’s light, that gives ‘light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death’.

Get Involved


Pray for an ambitious outcome that will make a difference in the lives of communities affected by climate change. Visit the Pray4COP21 website to add your prayer, respond to other people’s prayers, engage with what’s happening each day at the talks and receive daily prayers. Share prayers on Twitter with the hashtag #Pray4COP21.


Consider taking part in a Global Climate March in your area, particularly now that the planned march in Paris has been cancelled due to security concerns.


The Alliance is working together with together with the Anglican Communion Environmental Network and other groups around COP21. Read about more ways to get involved in this Anglican Communion News Service Comment piece by the Revd Dr Rachel Mash, environmental coordinator for the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.


COP at a Glance

The international political response to climate change began at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, where the “Rio Conventions” included the adoption of the UN Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

This convention set out a framework for action aimed at stabilising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”.

The UNFCCC entered into force on 21 March 1994 and now has a near-universal membership of 195 parties.

The main objective of COP, the annual Conference of Parties, is to review the Convention’s implementation.

The first COP took place in Berlin in 1995 and significant meetings since then have included COP3 where the Kyoto Protocol was adopted, COP11 where the Montreal Action Plan was produced, COP15 in Copenhagen where an agreement to success Kyoto Protocol was unfortunately not realised and COP17 in Durban where the Green Climate Fund was created.

In 2015 COP21, also known as the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, will, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.  

Source: www.cop21paris.org


Photo: Prayer for climate justice. Credit: Our Voices http://www.ourvoices.net/