Ahead of COP26 in November 2021, the interfaith initiative Make COP Count gathered faith leaders and
parliamentarians together to explore the role of faith communities in
encouraging an ambitious and effective climate summit, in partnership with the
all-party parliamentary groups (APPG) on Climate Change and the APPG on Faith and
Members of Parliament, Peers and faith representatives explored faith’s key priorities, listened to lived experience of global communities on the front line of the crisis and focused on next steps, including the need for action on loss and damage financing.
Top 5 things we learnt…
1. Faith groups have a history of driving political change, and can build on this to challenge the climate crisis.
Hon Stephen Timms MP, the Chair of the APPG on Faith and Society, pointed to the
rich history of campaigns such as Make Poverty History and the Jubilee Debt campaign
to remind us that faith groups have used their power to build political
consensus for change in the past, and can do this again for radical climate
2. Faith groups share key values that underpin their push for climate justice.
Jagbir Jhutti-Johal, Trustee of Faith for the Climate, highlighted that different
faiths groups all share the core values of equality, fairness, compassion and
justice, a key part of the reason that across the world they have been some of
the first to recognise and act on the seriousness of climate breakdown.
3. Loss and damage financing is more needed than ever as other avenues of supporting communities impacted by climate breakdown become less feasible.
Mazid Khan Siddique, Head of Climate Justice and Natural Resource Rights at
Oxfam in Bangladesh, explained that severe flooding is forcing Bangladeshis to
flee to Europe as previously feasible adaption strategies such as climate risk
insurance are no longer financially viable. He informed us that commitments on
loss and damage at COP26 would be a major step to prevent this.
4. Faith groups should prioritise amplifying the stories of frontline communities impacted by climate breakdown.
Quity, Project Coordinator of PACCCIL at Oxfam in the Solomon Islands,
explained that for many Solomon Islanders, tropical cyclones and rising seas
have destroyed their homes and forced them to relocate, in the process destroying
aspects of their culture, traditions and livelihoods. He urged faith groups to prioritise amplifying
the voices of the communities most affected by climate breakdown, such as Solomon
Islanders experiencing displacement, to ensure that those most affected are
involved in the design of new loss and damage mechanisms.
5. Faith groups and Parliamentarians need to keep working together to campaign for action on loss and damage.
Caroline Lucas, MP and Chair of the APPG on Climate Change, reiterated the
importance of delivery on loss and damage, arguing it needs additional finance
rather than adaption or mitigation. She urged faith groups to continue to
pressure Parliamentarians for action on this, and encouraged MPs to continue to
work closely with faith groups.
How can we be part of Make COP count ahead of COP26?
The Make COP Count coalition is a network of representatives
from faith communities with a shared focus on advocacy, hospitality and
consciousness-raising ahead of COP26. Together we hold a common belief that the
global response to the climate crisis has to be rooted in justice and human
rights, with loss and damage action as an essential element of this.
Alongside JPIT, a variety of faith groups are represented
within Make COP Count, including the Church of England, Eco Congregation
Scotland, the Eco Dharma Network, Eco-Sikh UK, Eco Synagogue, Faith for the
Climate, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Hindu Climate Action, Islamic Relief UK
and Quakers in Britain.
Make COP Count has two key priorities for COP26: ending
fossil fuel subsidies and establishing a new finance facility for loss and
damage. Loss and damage refers to the impact that climate breakdown is having
on people right now. It includes the loss of lives, livelihoods, homes,
cultures, traditions and habitats.
To find out more about Make COP Count, why not have a look
at their website – makecopcount.org. or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As Christians, we believe that care for God’s creation is a
central call of our faith. By joining together with other Christians alongside
wider faith groups, we can call for change that improves the lives of our
neighbours, be they nearby or far away.
A prayer ahead of COP26 –
Thank you for the world you have made,
where there is space and resource for each of us to flourish if we learn to share well.
Help us love our neighbours,
wherever they may call home.
We lift up to you our world leaders as COP26 approaches,
and ask you give them guidance to make wise choices and ambitious commitments.
Thank you for the ways your Church has fought for those most affected by the climate crisis,
embolden us to call for change with their needs at heart.
We pray for more of your kingdom to come,
where there is justice for all.
COP26 is the 26th annual UN Climate Change Conference, the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). It’s going to be held in Glasgow, Scotland this November. To find out more about COP26 and JPIT’s work on it, look here.