COP 26: More commitment and action from world leaders is needed to tackle the climate crisis
The World Student Christian Federation as part of the ecumenical coalition for climate justice -a coalition made of delegates and representatives from several different Christian organizations and churches- attended the COP 26 UN Climate Change Conference that took place from 31 October to 12 November 2021 in Glasgow, UK.
WSCF has been involved in Climate Justice advocacy as part of its Ecological Justice Global Program, being active in different ecumenical meetings and global encounters such as the United Nations Framework Convention Climate Conference (COPs) since 2015. Many activities have been done in the COPs framework, many of them related to the ecumenical delegation and inter-faith coordination in order to make our call for Climate and Social Justice stronger.
As years pass by, we see how reluctant are industrialised countries regarding the most important workstreams in the climate conversation, especially those that tried to slightly cover the climate and ecological debt with the most affected countries and communities that have contributed the least to climate change. Malena Lozada, Argentinian Scmer and representative of WSCF LAC at the Executive Committee, wrote: “For us, the Global South, the funding agreements are important; as climate change extremes the weather phenomena it also extremes the inequality conditions all over the world. And even though it is a global problem and needs a global solution and a whole planet that walks along; it is true that we have common but differentiated responsibilities. Those who are going to suffer more are the ones that have less economic resources to face a climate crisis and the ones that have very little responsibility in the generation of this crisis. So, for Global South, COP26 and the agreements have failed on attending the claims and necessities of this part of the planet ”.
The ecumenical family and civil society organizations are concerned about the outcomes of COP26 as they remain far behind the accelerating climate crisis. Once again the selfishness and greed of rich countries have left behind the table some of the most important conversations such as loss and damage produced by the effects of climate change. The Statement on the outcome of COP26 of the World Council of Churches reflects this concern: “The executive committee of the World Council of Churches, meeting on 12-17 November 2021 in Bossey, Switzerland, therefore expresses its disappointment and dismay at the inadequate outcome of the COP 26 Climate Change Conference”.
Regarding the context of the climate crisis, Dr. Geevarghese Mor Coorilos, WSCF Chairperson, shared a reflection on the responsibility of the global ecumenical community:
“It is indeed ‘now or never’. Today, our planet and humanity are at crossroads. The challenge of climate change is beyond human imagination and hence requires urgent attention and response. The future of our planet will depend on how the human race is going to respond to the challenge of climate change. The arrival of the pandemic in the form of Covid 19 could well be nature's latest and perhaps the strongest alarm bell against climate change. The global ecumenical community has an important responsibility to address the issue from a theological and ethical perspective. There are those who believe that the issues such as climate change are inevitable signs of the “eschaton”. Such responses reflect a superficial understanding of faith and contemporary realities. What is needed, instead, is a deeper perspective that would look at these issues from a prophetic/justice/liberation perspective. This would warrant, from ecclesial communities worldwide, on the one hand, a prophetic critique and denunciation of the neo-liberal capitalist models of development that has little regard for the poor and their environment and therefore the root cause of the problem, and on the other hand, an alternative lifestyle that is centered on the values of the reign of God, viz, justice, sharing, sustainability and integrity of creation. The challenge is found in the following verse”.
“You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” (Luke 12: 57).
WSCF delegate for WCC at COP26
In the first week of COP26, Stina Tysk represented WSCF as a delegate for WCC. Besides following negotiations and participating in different events, Stina was part of the Ecumenical group.
She participated in a stunt organized by ACT Alliance in the Blue Zone to highlight the importance of the loss and damage discussion and climate justice. The stunt was performed by the youth representatives. As well as the Climate Strike with Fridays for Future in the Blue Zone where youths from all around the world and organizations got together to strike.
Stina wrote down some of her thoughts and experiences at Cop26 in a post for the WCC blog:
“Divided might be the correct term to describe my experience of being here at COP26 in Glasgow. I proudly represent my organization, the World Student Christian Federation, and I am glad that the WCC gave me and the other delegates this opportunity. It is a way for us to network, learn and understand. We in the ecumenical group, consisting of Christians from a number of organizations and denominations, do our best to amplify the voices of those who are not able to be here and follow the negotiations, perhaps even affect one person here and there. At the same time, feelings of frustration and desperation are constantly present. At least for me. I think of the people outside. I think of the people inside who desperately try to make their voices heard. I am here with a badge that says observer. I am blonde, white, blue-eyed, from a rich country in the North, not only can I understand English, I can speak it as well. This is what others see when I walk around in the Blue Zone and when I leave it. In this regard, I belong to the majority of the thousands of people in the Blue Zone. It is wrong that the representation is so disproportionate.”
The devastating effects of climate change, which is not only harming the planet but leaving people displaced, vulnerable and poor, require more commitment and action from world leaders if humanity really aims to tackle this crisis. As a global ecumenical fellowship of Christian students and young people, that believe in the role of youth as stewards of God’s creation, called to care for the environment and the world, WSCF reaffirms its commitment to continue advocating for climate justice and building a more just world.
- Statement on the outcome of COP26 by the WCC Executive Committee, November 2021
- At COP26, “it is like no one emotionally can comprehend what is happening”, by Stina Tysk for WCC Blog Post
- Photos: Albin Hiller from Lutheran World Federation