COP26: The church’s role in this season of change

COP26: The church’s role in this season of change

Why should the church be responding to climate crisis?

 

Shanley McConnell. October 31, 2021. COP26: The church’s role in this season of changeThe Evangelical Alliance. Retrieved from https://www.eauk.org/.

Under the co-presidency of the UK and Italy, thousands of member representatives and official negotiators from more than 200 countries, businesses, NGOs, unions, and faith communities will contribute significant research and intercultural insight into COP26 delegations. Moving with momentum from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which was published on 8 August 2021, world leaders will develop and negotiate methods for addressing current climate change crises.

We are privileged as the Evangelical Alliance to attend COP26, with advocacy and public policy members from our Scottish team on the ground, keeping us updated with information on various events and speaking with leaders at the conference. While we anticipate cooperation among world leaders in the weeks ahead, as Christians, we must also pursue opportunities to facilitate eco-friendly methods of change within our workplaces, homes, and churches. We encourage you to follow us as we upload details on our Evangelical Alliance Instagram account.

The Evangelical Alliance seeks to build upon these conversations by developing resources and strategies to empower the church and individual Christians to respond to climate change. We will weigh the research presented at COP26, articulate public policy decisions, and advocate for socio-economic change with biblical motivation.

Our hope is that the church will bear witness to the compassion, intentionality, and dominion of God by working diligently to protect His creation. We know that there is a link between environmental sustainability and social justice, and we want COP26 to be the catalyst for further holistic reform. We understand the positive influence that reducing carbon emissions will have on wider economic issues such as public health, job creation and reducing inequality.

COP26 is an opportunity for world leaders to accelerate the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The UK has been a valuable member – working over the last 30 years to grow our economy by 78 per cent while cutting emissions by 44 per cent. We have decarbonised our economy faster than any other country in the G20 since 2000 and continue to remain the world’s largest producer of offshore wind energy.

In line with the ambitions of the Paris Agreement, the UK has also resolved to end direct government support for the fossil fuel energy sector overseas, doubled its international climate finance to aid developing nations (£11.6bn over the next five years), began the process of planting trees on 30,000 hectares of land (per year by 2025), and announced plans to prioritise farmers as frontline workers in reversing environmental decline.

The world is desperate to recover from the devastating impact of coronavirus, and we believe that the momentum of this recovery provides us with the opportunity to build a more sustainable return. By investing in clean energy, transport, nature, and technology, the UK and wider world can tackle climate change and create hundreds of thousands of green jobs.

The Evangelical Alliance conducted research in which more than 79 per cent of participants said they believe that the church should be engaging actively with climate change. Moving forward reflectively, the church must continue to ask for God’s wisdom and creativity when addressing climate change through action and word. We can initiate change by auditing our current climate impact and responding with humility to make small, practical changes in our church environments (i.e., introducing re-usable cups, cleaning with recycling bins and promoting fair trade).

On 15 November, the Evangelical Alliance will launch Changing Church: Climate Change, a resource to equip the UK church in its response to the climate crisis. You can access the resource ahead of the official launch by clicking here. Changing Church: Climate Change includes research into the attitudes and actions of church members and parliamentary leaders; biblical analysis into the wider context of creation care; questions for church leadership reflection; and 10 sustainable practices the church can implement now.

Our compassion for the natural world and all who are suffering because of climate change damage and uncertainty grows firm and practical when we reflect on the prayer that Jesus taught His disciples in Matthew 6 — the output of our work on climate change leading us closer to ​“a kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.”

From Sunday, 31 October to Friday, 12 November, Glasgow will welcome an estimated 30,000 delegates from around the world for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26).