As a faith community, Quakers have pledged to address the root causes of climate breakdown. To do this, we are called to act at every level: locally, nationally and internationally.
A global UN summit will happen in Glasgow this November. At this summit, governments from around the world will agree to take action to prevent further climate breakdown.
These UN climate talks are called COP26, as it is the 26th 'Conference of the Parties'. The UK climate movement are focused on it this year because it is the highest decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
COP26 is slated to be the most important COP since talks in Paris 2015. Climate breakdown has worsened in the past six years, and countries have not taken enough action to meet the essential targets they set in the Paris Agreement. Neither – according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – are these targets ambitious enough.
At COP26, countries will be expected to report on their progress made on previous commitments and also to submit their new long-term goals. This makes it a crucial moment for leaders to commit to the rapid and far-reaching action called for by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to prevent catastrophic levels of warming.
The good news is that the UN climate talks are coming to us for the first time ever. Yes, the UK government remains committed to financially supporting fossil fuel extraction. But the glare of international attention will increase pressure on the government to adopt better climate policies.
This international focus on UK climate policies makes COP26 an opportunity for Quakers. By shouting about the the climate policies we all need, our decision-makers can push for them at the UN climate talks.
Between now and November we'll be working with campaigners, faith groups and Quaker organisations, including the Quaker United Nations Office. Together we will support the climate movement and push for stronger action from the UK and Scottish governments.
So, 2021 is an important year for Quakers concerned about the climate. You might be wondering: how can I help COP26 be the talks that change the world?
Here are six things to do before November arrives:
1. Join a socially-distanced springtime action
Journey to COP26 is a Quaker initiative calling on people of other faiths and people of no faith to join a journey of awareness, understanding and action ahead of the COP26 UN climate talks. On Saturday 10 April and Sunday 11 April you are invited to celebrate the natural world by making a short journey to any place that is sacred to you. Take a picture of yourself in the spot and post it on social media, with a caption explaining why you feel called to protect the Earth and all its inhabitants. Find out more and sign up on our website.
2. Join our online spiritual preparation meetings
Quakers in Britain and Woodbrooke are working together to run monthly online sessions, supporting people who are interested in taking action on climate change in the run up to – and during – COP26. These sessions are open to all and will provide a space for spiritual grounding, as well as sharing and learning about taking action for climate justice. Learn more and sign up on Woodbrooke's website.
3. Craft a creative response
The Loving Earth Project is an arts project that celebrates the things we love that are threatened by growing environmental breakdown. This creative multimedia exploration includes a community textile project which you can contribute to, or borrow to display, to inspire others. The project was started by a small group of Quakers and is open to everyone. Woodbrooke is offering Loving Earth Project workshops for meetings and other Quaker groups.
4. Write to a Quaker in another nation
Take part in Protecting God's Creation, a new project where Quakers around the world connect in correspondence about the climate. This initiative is being launched to build international Quaker connections in the build-up to COP26 and is organised by Friends World Committee for Consultation and Britain Yearly Meeting. Learn more and sign up.
5. Join the COP26 Coalition
Quakers in Britain are part of COP26 Coalition, a network of groups and individuals from Scotland and the rest of the UK, including trade unions, climate justice groups, faith groups, students and youth, migrant and racial justice networks.
The coalition aims to organise for COP26 in a transformative, hope-filled way, working in solidarity with international climate movements. Sign up to organise with the coalition here.
6. Get in touch with us!
Sign up to our Quaker Faith in Action newsletter and tick the 'climate justice & sustainability' option to receive more resources and ideas for action over the course of 2021.
We would also like to hear directly from Quakers who are interested in taking action around COP26. If that's you, get in touch with by emailing me at OonaghR@quaker.org.uk!