What is COP26?
Officially COP26 is the 26th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change agreed in Paris. At the meeting countries will agree on the next steps to address the climate crisis. Negotiations will take place in Glasgow from November 1-12
The ambition of COP26 is to get commitments from countries to cut their emissions, strengthen adaptation and resilience to climate impacts, and scale-up finance and support particularly to developing countries. Countries have filed their commitments ahead of the summit but the UN has released a report saying these pledges will allow temperatures to rise a disastrous 2.7°C by the end of the century.
The IPCC’s 6th and most recent report revealed how urgently action is needed for the world to avoid environmental breakdown. The pressure is on for governments to produce bold action to address the greatest challenge facing the world.
The Key Issues at COP26:
- Drastically reducing global carbon emissions by 2030 to limit warming to 1.5 °C.
- Protecting people and the natural environment.
- Mobilising climate finance.
Countries need to set ambitious emissions reductions targets for 2030 to enable the world to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. These targets must:
- Speed up the end of fossil fuel use.
- End deforestation.
- Accelerate the switch to clean energy production.
We need to protect and restore the environment. It is up to all of us to build resilient, strong and sustainable infrastructure to protect the lives and livelihoods of all people.
Vulnerable countries need resources to adapt to the significant impact climate change is already having and prepare for an uncertain future.
- Women in all their diversity must participate equally in all climate change decision-making processes.
- Separate Climate finance targets for mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage (compensation for the unavoidable adverse effects of climate change) need to be set. Loss and damage finance must have its own category in the post-2025 finance architecture.
- Developed countries must meet their climate finance commitments.
- Covid-19 has created opportunities for all countries to restructure their economies to enable people and planet-centred solutions.
To achieve these goals, richer countries must deliver on their promise to raise at least US $100bn in climate finance per year. Countries like Australia, Canada, Italy, and Japan, who are some of the largest emitters, need to commit to an additional $2-4 billion per year to fulfil their obligations to climate finance.
“In the midst of the existential threat of the climate crisis on the people and biodiversity of the Pacific; the Pacific Household of God amplifies the groaning of creation and the cry of people who face the destruction of homes, of communities and nations across our blue Pacific. Confronted with the threat to identity, livelihood and sovereignty, we draw on our spirituality and indigenous knowledge and life-affirming traditional values as a source of our resilience and hope in such adversity.” Securing a future for our Pacific – Pacific Conference of Churches’ Call to COP26
To our neighbours in the Pacific, the degrees of temperature rise and damage from climate change are threatening the viability of life as they know it. It is vital that their voices are raised at COP26.
Few from the Pacific are able to attend COP26. Reverend James Bhagwan of the Pacific Conference of Churches is making the pilgrimage to Glasgow. Bhagwan is travelling via train in Europe, speaking for the Pacific and attending meetings along the way to Glasgow. He asks for prayers for Ms. Iemaima Vaai PCC’s Ecumenical Enabler for Ecological Stewardship and Climate Justice and the Climate Justice for All Pacific campaign worker, and himself as they “raise the prophetic voice from the Pacific at Glasgow”.
In Fiji, PCC has established Lomana Na Vulagi (Love the Stranger) a farm as part of its carbon sequestration plan which will provide food for those in need, revenue for PCC and an on-site eco-school for young Pacific people. At the end of COP26, staff will plant a tree for each person who travelled from the Pacific.
Pacific Civil Society including the Pacific Conference of Churches has agreed on the COP26 Demands.
What New Zealand is Doing
Nationally Determined Contribution:
The Government will announce our updated nationally determined contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement, showing how it will cut the amount of harmful greenhouse gas emissions. New Zealand’s current NDC pledges an emissions reduction of 11% below 1990 levels by 2030 and has been described as ‘highly insufficient’.
With a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 now enshrined in law (Zero Carbon Act 2019), the Government is creating the Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP) for the next 15 years. The draft version is currently open for submissions by the public. However, the final plan will not be released until May after being pushed back five months by the Government. The draft ERP does not go far enough to limit warming to 1.5 °C. Instead of relying on the mitigation potential of forestry and land use, it needs to include a larger focus on reducing emissions from our high-emitting sectors.
Action: Make a submission to the ERP.
The Government has committed $1.3 billion over four years to support countries most vulnerable to climate change with over half of the money to go to the Pacific.
Time for Action
- Write letters and talk to your MP pushing for ambitious action at COP26.
- Join with others in local events and actions around COP26 – or organise your own. Seminars, protest action, divestment from fossil fuels and planting trees help create an environment more favourable to the change that is needed.
- Support the Pacific Conference of Churches by purchasing Climate Hope through Christian World Service’s Gifted programme.
- Religious Leaders and Interfaith Groups presented a joint statement on COP26 to Climate Change Minister, James Shaw.
- Global Prayer and Action Chain for Climate Justice invites people of all faiths and none to pray intensely and act radically to reduce the negative effects of human activity on the planet. Visit their website for prayers, petitions and other resources to act for climate justice. Sign the Pray and Act petition. Watch the Pray and Act webinar on Faith Engagement at COP26. Monday, November 1, 5:30-10 am NZT: Join the interfaith Talanoa Dialogue which includes Zoom dialogue rooms. Wednesday, November 3, 8:30 am NZT: Watch the livestream of the Pray and Act Faith in Action petition hand in ceremony.
- Join Eco Church to pray for COP26. Online Prayer Vigil: Sunday 31 October from 8-9 pm via Zoom. No need to register, just click on this Zoom link to join. Daily Prayer: A short time from 8 – 8:20 pm every evening from 1-11 November via Facebook live. Pray together in-person: Karakia for our Climate Vigil services on Friday 12 November:
- Rise Up for Climate Justice, 3-7 November, South Taranaki is a climate justice event involving learning about local issues, art and prop making, and taking non-violent direct action against major climate polluters.
- In a letter to G20 leaders, global religious leaders representing half a billion Christians in over 100 countries warned that rising global temperatures will have increasingly disastrous consequences on impoverished and vulnerable communities that contribute least to the climate crisis.
Giver and sustainer of life,
Grant courage to decision-makers at this critical hour.
Instil an urgency for effective action to forge a clean energy future to put people before profit and nature before perpetual growth to ensure justice for the most affected yet least responsible.
Help us to do everything we can to participate in restoring Creation.
In your glorious name we pray,