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C of E guide draws on Communion’s experience to promote engagement with COP28

10 November 2023


NEXT year is expected to be the hottest on record, as greenhouse-gas emissions continue to rise. The Church of England has published a guide to help people to engage with the UN climate summit, COP28, which begins on 30 November (News, 10 November).

Once described as “4D spaghetti”, the annual climate negotiations are, on one level, notoriously complex; on another, they are very simple: it is the nations of the world coming together to decide how they are going to tackle the climate crisis.

This year, the meeting takes place in Dubai, the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates and one of the world’s biggest oil-producers. The meeting is an opportunity to push climate change up the agenda, the Church of England’s national environment officer, Jo Chamberlain, said. “Climate change and big international conferences like this can be hard for any of us to get our heads round. People can also feel slightly helpless and unsure of how they can contribute from home, but there are many ways we can all do our bit.

“As Christians, we can pray, and we can share our concerns with our local MP and also raise awareness through our churches. This handy guide offers lots of useful tips on the best ways to ensure your voice is heard at this international climate event.”

The Church of England engages with the COP summits as part of a delegation from the Anglican Communion. The guide, published this week, says that, since climate change is a global problem, it engages through the global perspective offered by the Communion. At COP28, the delegation will be led by the Primate of Central America, the Most Revd Julio Murray, from Panama.

‘‘It's no use burying your head in the snow’’

Underpinning the Church’s involvement is inequality in the experiencing of the effects of climate change: most of the poorer, less polluting countries are some of the most vulnerable to storm, drought, and rising seas. The guide refers to England as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, and the eighth largest producer of historic emissions, and says: “We worship a God of justice, and therefore we want to be at COP28 to help bring about climate justice.”

The Anglican Communion, with many country delegations and civil-society groups, is calling for this year’s summit to set a date by which the world will have phased out fossil-fuel use. At last year’s meeting, in Egypt, the language of the final communiqué was watered down from “phase out” to “phase down”. The hope of the Communion delegates is that this date will be agreed in Dubai.

The guide outlines three ways in which people can engage in the talks, despite not attending in person. First, they can pray “for every country to be willing to make concessions to see the kind of change we need to see”. Links are provided to prayer resources from Green Christian and CAFOD.

Second, people can write to their MP. Many MPs judge the level of concern of their constituents by the size of their mailbag on an issue. The guide provides links to the Make Polluters Pay website, which has a template and guide for writing to politicians.

Third, the COP is an opportunity to raise awareness and discuss the issue of climate change with friends, colleagues, and neighbours. The guide sets out ways to do this, and links to research from Climate Outreach offers tips.

Christian Aid’s campaigns and activism officer, Colleen Tait, said: “The international and intergenerational perspective provided by the Church is an important voice at these talks. It’s great to see the Church pointing out ways people can support this effort from home. Those prayers and actions are going to be greatly needed.”


Joe Ware is a senior climate journalist at Christian Aid.

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