CHRISTIAN groups have marked the 100 days that are left until the UK hosts the COP26 climate-change summit. They have called on the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to show greater leadership.
Record-breaking heatwaves in North America, extreme flooding in Europe, China, and London, and a hunger crisis in parts of Africa, have highlighted the issues to be faced by the UN summit in Glasgow in November.
On Friday, campaigners in Parliament Square, outside the Palace of Westminster, asked what had happened to UK leadership, with only months to go until the world leaders’ arrival in the UK.
Christian Aid’s CEO, Amanda Khozi Mukwashi, said that COP26 was the biggest diplomatic event on British soil since the end of the Second World War: “The responsibility on the shoulders of Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak could not be higher, and yet they appear to be missing in action.
“COP26 needs to deliver the long-promised climate finance for the world’s poorest people, a proper process for addressing the permanent loss and damage caused by the climate emergency, and much more urgent emissions reductions to put us on track to limit global heating to 1.5C. There’s still time, but it’s running out, and we need to see the occupants of Downing Street putting their shoulder to the wheel to make COP26 the success it needs to be.”
To mark the 100-day countdown to the talks, a coalition of Christian groups has called for churches to hold a “Climate Sunday” service in the run-up to the summit, commit themselves to practical action, and sign a petition for more urgent action by the Government. More than 1500 churches across the denominational spectrum in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland have signed up so far.
A milestone in the campaign before COP26 will be a national Climate Sunday event in Glasgow Cathedral on 5 September. This will celebrate the commitments made by churches to that point, and present the Government with a list of those commitments and the signatories of all churches who have signed the declaration “The Time is Now”.
The CEO of A Rocha UK, Andy Atkins, who chairs the Climate Sunday Coalition, said: “The climate crisis is accelerating alarmingly; but we have the unique opportunity in rich countries to accelerate the solutions by directing Covid recovery funds towards building a new, green economy. At present, the Government is in danger of ‘building back worse’; so there has never been a more crucial time for UK churches to come together to pray, act locally, and speak up nationally on the climate crisis and on the need to ‘build back greener’.”
Hannah Eves, a member of the Young Christian Climate Network from Northern Ireland, which is also a supporter of the coalition, said: “It’s five to midnight on the ticking clock to avoid catastrophic climate change. We’re thrilled to see churches now acting on the concerns of my generation. But the grand statements we hear from the Government are so often undermined by contradictory actions.
“Boris Johnson says ‘We’re committed to Net Zero,’ then launches a massive new road-building programme, for example. The whole world is watching. Our government needs to put its own house in order fast, to have a fighting chance of delivering a successful COP for the world and my generation.”
For more details about the Climate Sunday initiative, including a series of free resources for churches, visit www.climatesunday.org.
Joe Ware is Senior Climate Journalist at Christian Aid.