United Nations Climate Conference
Monday, November 1, 2021
Advocacy through a justice lens
Through its non-governmental, consultative status with the United Nations, the General Board of Church and Society is able to participate in conferences such as COP26.
Its advocacy role in Scotland is to urge the international community to consider the justice implications on the effects of human activities on climate.
“We know that – historically and currently – certain countries can contribute more greenhouse gases than other,” John Hill, GBCS deputy general secretary, who is leading a Methodist delegation on the ground in Glasgow, told GBCS directors on Oct. 21. “When we look at the impact … we see an inverse relationship.”
Wealthier countries have better resources to protect against the impact of climate change, Hill pointed out. “Those who are least resourced, those who are contributing the least, have the least resources to adapt to the changing climate.”
COP26 provides “a moment of great opportunity and great challenge” to bridge the “ambition gap” between what countries pledge and what they achieve, he said.
The United Methodist Church also has made strong statements and passed specific resolutions in support of climate action, Hill said, but it also has an ambition gap.
One way the Board of Church and Society is addressing that gap is through its work with Climate Justice for All, a program of the World Methodist Council, “to ensure that these younger voices…are brought into the COP in ways that are meaningful.”
During the two weeks in Glasgow, the board delegation includes young adult representatives of Climate Justice for All, along with GBCS staff and several participants representing other Methodist and ecumenical partners.
Linda Bloom, interim communications director, GBCS, (New York)
Tuesday, November 2, 2021
COP26, General Conference and how decisions happen
Yesterday was the start of the World Leaders Summit, kicking off the two-week United Nations Climate Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland. And in some ways, it reminded me of the opening of a General Conference. Just as The United Methodist Church starts General Conference with uplifting worship and inspiring preaching, so too this global conference began with powerful presentations and speeches by youth, indigenous leaders and heads of state promising action for a future filled with hope. And yet like at General Conference, the ultimate success of this global gathering will be based not on the soaring rhetoric at the start but on the concrete decision text adopted in the second week — text that is currently being negotiated in smaller committee rooms around the venue.
Arriving at these decisions will be no easy task. Key differences among the country delegations must be bridged on everything from targets for new emissions reductions under the Paris Agreement to scaling up finance to assist nations in adapting to and facing losses from climate change. And running through all these work streams are fundamental issues of human rights, racial equity, and gender justice.
As with previous COPs, the faith community is present in the conference halls and in meetings encouraging delegates to take bold action and make concrete commitments to bend the arc of future emissions so that all God’s creation might flourish. While navigating new health protocols and challenging restrictions regarding access, the faith community — and our Methodist delegation — remains committed to advocating for just and equitable climate action and a successful, ambitious decision by the conclusion of this COP. Delegates must seize the opportunity for bold action here at COP26 and not defer these decisions for another year — God’s people and God’s planet demand nothing less.
John Hill, deputy general secretary, GBCS (Glasgow)