The Anglican Communion and COP27

5 November 2022

The Anglican Communion and COP27

This week, world leaders and negotiators will once again gather for the annual Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). These negotiations are the world’s pre-eminent decision-making space on climate change. In a year that has seen catastrophic flooding in Pakistan, prolonged drought in East Africa and unprecedented heatwaves in Europe – amongst other extreme climate events across the world – the importance of the meeting and need for urgent action could not be clearer.

COP27 will take place between November 6th and 18th at Sharm El-Sheik in Egypt, and for the second time, an Anglican Communion delegation will participate as an accredited Observer Non-Governmental Organisation to the UNFCCC, allowing Anglican experience and perspectives from across the Communion to be shared.

This article explores how the Anglican Communion will be engaging with COP27 and what we hope to achieve. It will introduce the policy paper and the delegation. Please use the information to pray for those representing the Anglican Communion in this significant space and for the success of the negotiations, the outcomes of which will have profound consequences for our brothers and sisters around the world.

Background: The Anglican Communion, climate change and COP26

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 climate emergency was a key and recurrent theme of the Lambeth Conference. On the London Day and at the environment seminar, bishops spoke passionately about their concerns for people in their dioceses as they struggle with the impacts of the changing climate.

Participants in the Lambeth Conference environment seminar. Image: Anglican Alliance/ Elizabeth Perry

However, Anglicans are not only affected; they are also responding. In the face of this new reality, they are developing skills in adaptation, mitigation, disaster response, disaster preparedness, resilience and advocacy. Anglicans everywhere are protecting and restoring forests and other ecosystems. They are implementing green protocols and net carbon zero strategies.

Across the Anglican Communion, there is a wealth of experience, knowledge and wisdom about what is needed in the face of climate change. We have voices worth hearing and a perspective worth sharing.

Last year, the Anglican Communion, through the Anglican Consultative Council, gained accreditation as an observer NGO to the UNFCCC. There has been Anglican presence at previous COPs but COP26 was the first time the Communion as a whole was able to participate. Throughout 2021, a working group drawn from the Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations (ACOUN), the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, the Anglican Indigenous Network, Anglican youth, Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Alliance came together to prepare for the conference and make the most of the opportunities it provided. Outputs included a series of webinars to equip and enthuse Anglican leadership ahead of the COP and the development of a policy position paper and written statement. They culminated in the in-person presence of a small delegation at the COP in Glasgow.

The COP26 Anglican Communion delegation in Glasgow, Scotland in 2021

How is the Anglican Communion engaging with COP27?

This work did not stop at the end of the conference in Glasgow. Through 2022, it has developed in different ways – for example, feeding into the seminar programme of the Lambeth Conference, the London Day with its focus on the environment and sustainable development, the Communion Forest initiative and the Lambeth call on the environment and sustainable development.

And now preparations are complete for engagement with COP27. Once again, the Anglican Communion has a policy paper and a small in-person delegation who will arrive in Egypt on 6 November.

Policy position paper for COP27

The COP27 policy paper is a supplement to the Anglican Consultative Council’s COP26 Policy Position Paper: Climate Resilience and Just Financing. It does not replace it but updates and complements it. As with the original, it focuses on two key priority areas: climate resilience and just financing. These are areas in which the Member Churches of the Anglican Communion have specific expertise and concerns. Both papers seek to highlight the key voices of Indigenous peoples, youth and women.

The key messages of the policy update are:

  1. The climate emergency is a global threat that requires a global response, imagination and the long view. It can’t be solved if countries are caged by nationalistic self-interest or short-term political cycles. Profound changes in attitudes and ways of seeing are needed. This is something the Anglican Communion and other faith actors offer.
  2. Recognise the strategic importance of faith actors and include them as key partners in building resilience, coordinating disaster response, and other adaptation and mitigation activities. Churches and other faith actors are integral parts of local communities, have deep wells of experience and a web of relationships to perform these functions.
  3. Resilience is about more than providing infrastructure. People and relationships are at the heart of community resilience, alongside practical responses. The Anglican Communion is actively building the resilience of its members across the world.
  4. Resilience planning must include comprehensive, multi-sector interventions and responses supported by adaptive and flexible funding and designed with the active participation of local and vulnerable communities, particularly Indigenous peoples, women, and youth.
  5. Governments, especially those in the Global North, must fulfil their financial commitments to climate finance, scale up development assistance to support mitigation and adaptation initiatives, double adaptation funds, encourage financial institutions to provide grants, rather than loans, and consider broad-based debt relief for financially overburdened countries.
  6. We call on the parties meeting at the 27th Conference of Parties in Sharm El Sheikh, to establish fund facility for loss and damage due to climate change.

The policy paper will be available in English, Arabic, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

Coming up

Part 2 of this web story will introduce the Anglican Communion delegation and what they hope to achieve at COP27. Please pray for the Anglican delegation and all those arriving in Egypt from around the world for these vital negotiations. Please pray for urgent and courageous decisions and action at this COP.

The Anglican Alliance and climate change

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. The integrity of creation is under severe strain as a result of climate change, environmental degradation and biodiversity loss. Environmental degradation and climate change are also major factors driving poverty and migration and are therefore cross-cutting issues that are part of each of our three pillars of relief, development and advocacy.