Message from Rosemary King

COP26: What Difference Will It Make?

Clear skies, large oak trees and small birds in the garden were features of our world we used to take for granted. Christians believed the wonders of the universe revealed a God who loved and cared for all creation. They believed that human beings should care about and be “stewards” of the environment. Relatively few people thought about the effect extracting the fossil fuels of oil and coal and burning them was having on the environment. Now, most recognise that these human activities which upset the balance between emission and absorption of carbon dioxide in the planet, have resulted in a large climate change.

“Manmade global warming is no longer a conjecture it is established science. We have to spend money on resilience and reduction of carbon emissions” is the conclusion of environmental experts. Will the COP 26 conference start to restore the earth’s climate by negotiating actions to achieve warming of no more than 1.5 OC or net zero CO2 emission? The world is watching.

The reduction of climate change is crucial to the existence of living things on this earth so what are environmentally sustainable ways of tackling it. In Glasgow, 200 countries are asked for their plans to bring down their emissions using four approaches:

1. Developing renewable energy supplies so we do not use fossil fuels.

2. Finding measures which will enable societies to adapt to or be more resilient to climate change events.

3. Finding finance to support sustainable infrastructures for transport, buildings, finance and energy.

4. Building natural ways of supporting fragile ecosystems.

If sufficient progress is not made the floods in Bangladesh, the droughts in East Africa, the death of coral reefs and changed weather patterns will continue but encouraging decisions have been taken. They are to reduce methane emissions, to stop and reverse deforestation, to prevent tree cutting which allows planting of palm oil, soya or grazing for cattle, to end financing for the extraction of coal and to give money to support the poorer countries which have done least to cause global warming yet suffer most from it.

Our screens, phones, newspapers and magazines are full of information telling us of the problems to progress – Russia’s and China’s leaders not taking part, Middle Eastern countries being dependant on money from oil to finance development, extraction of coal and oil making a huge difference to the economy in Australia and India so developing new energy sources is politically unpopular. Delegates will grapple with these difficulties.

The agenda of COP26 is hardly at the forefront of most people’s thoughts; issues with the family and everyday living will crowd it out. Nevertheless, as Christians we want to act in ways that are consistent with stewardship of the earth's resources. What might influence a faith guided response and what changes might we be making in our lives? Concern for our grandchildren and future generations encourage us to avoid food waste, reduce plastic use, reuse and recycle items from clothes to household appliances. Most of us find it hard to change our lifestyle enough to make substantial reductions in our carbon footprint but COP26 requires us to be more “planet wise”.