"Our faith does not permit us to stand by": Quakers' statement ahead of COP26

Quakers in Britain are calling for just solutions to the climate crisis and encouraging Friends to join the global day of action on Saturday 6 November, in a statement published in advance of the UN COP26 climate negotiations.

20 Qs seated on grass and banner they painted
Heading for COP26: Bristol and North Somerset pilgrimage. (Photo Chris Willmore)

The statement draws on minutes from this summer's Yearly Meeting Gathering – Quakers' decision making body – as well as suggestions from young Friends and from Meeting for Sufferings. It calls for loss and damage finance and a global just transition beyond fossil fuels, and clearly articulates a core principle of climate justice: “Rich countries like the UK have done the most to cause the climate crisis, and owe the rest of the world an immense 'climate debt'."


We are part of a mass movement of people that will not be defeated.

- Statement from Quakers in Britain


As well as criticising the UK government's approach to climate action and its broken promises around access to COP26, the statement is a call to action for Friends, for “[o]ur faith does not permit us to stand by while the splendour of the world is destroyed for short-term profit." It invites Friends (as Quakers refer to each other) to join a meeting for worship on Sunday 31 October as COP26 begins, as well as the global day of action for climate justice on Saturday 6 November.

On 6 November, Quakers will be joining the 'faith and belief bloc' as part of the marches in Glasgow and London, to which everyone is welcome. Marchers in Glasgow are invited to gather at the Stewart Memorial Fountain in Kelvingrove Park at 11.30am, while the faith and belief bloc in London will be meeting outside St Michael Cornhill Church on Cornhill at noon. Both marches will conclude with a rally from 3.00-4.00pm, on Glasgow Green and in Trafalgar Square. Glasgow and Westminster meeting houses will be open for people to drop in for hot drinks.

Olivia Hanks, Economics & Sustainability Programme Manager for Quakers in Britain, said: “COP26 is a huge moment for the UK climate movement, and Quakers around the country are very much part of that. It has been amazing to see such creativity and passion for climate justice as Quakers prepared for COP26. They have been involved in pilgrimages, vigils, banner making, political advocacy, knitting, and all kinds of other actions to build a strong movement and call on our governments to take this crisis seriously.

“As today's statement says, Quakers cannot and will not stand by and see everything we love destroyed. We know COP26 will not deliver climate justice – this is a long struggle. But when we take action together, we are powerful, and we are part of a mass movement of people that will not be defeated."

Read the full statement here (PDF)., watch and share the statement video below.

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Read the full statement (PDF).