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CLIMATE SUMMIT OFFERS SOME BREAKTHROUGH, BUT ALSO DISAPPOINTMENT

On Saturday 13 November, the Glasgow Climate Pact was signed by representatives from 197 countries, as the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) ended in Glasgow, Scotland. Country representatives were joined by members of NGOs, businesses, and faith groups for the past two weeks to discuss strategies to combat climate change. The conference participants focussed on methods to limit the rise in global temperature to under 1.5 degrees Celsius – a goal that was agreed upon at the 2015 Paris Climate Summit. In a renewed attempt to reach the Paris goals, the United Kingdom (UK) drafted the Glasgow Climate Pact, a comprehensive document that was reviewed and debated by all countries and entities in attendance. The agreement focuses on three areas: mitigation (emission cuts), adaptation and finance (helping countries adapt to climate change effects), and loss and damage (dealing with impacts that are no longer adaptable). One of the main points of the agreement calls for countries to “phase down” their use of coal. The original text called for a “phase-out” of coal usage, but India insisted on the word change, angering many developing countries. To meet the current goal of staying below 1.5 degrees, 40% of the world’s current 8,500 coal-fired power plants need to close. In 2009, several developed nations agreed to contribute $100 billion in climate funding each year from 2020, however, that goal was not reached. The Glasgow Climate Pact includes a call to increase that funding to $500 billion over the next five years. Agreements on financial contributions toward loss and damage were not reached, but a reporting system, called the Santiago Network was developed. Further talks on loss and damage will be held at next year’s summit. Several individuals and environmental organisations protested the conference, criticising global leaders for making empty promises and still not doing enough to curb the effects of climate change.

FROM A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE

The Bible speaks about people’s responsibility to care for and steward God’s creation. When the Lord gave people dominion over the Earth and its resources (Genesis 1:26), He also presented them with the responsibility to care for and maintain His creation. Romans 1:20 says that the Lord reveals himself to people through “the things that have been made.” If creation is one of the ways that the Lord reveals Himself to people, it is an evangelistic tool that believers should cherish and steward responsibly. One of the most prominent effects of a changing climate is the increase in natural disasters and the overwhelming impact on impoverished communities. According to the Global Report on Internal Displacement, weather-related events were the cause of 98% of the disasters that displaced millions of people in 2020. Displacement often leaves people without food, shelter, and other necessary resources, while also affecting their emotional and spiritual health. Christians have a biblical mandate to respond to crises and assist those who are affected by disaster by providing both physical and spiritual aid. In James 2, believers are reminded of this calling: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” True faith in Christ should spur believers to action; to empathy and compassion for those who are suffering. The body of Christ should remain focussed on seeking first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6), and as part thereof, to care for the Earth and its most vulnerable populations, thus demonstrating Christ’s love to them.

Please pray with us for the following:

  • For wisdom and discernment for global leaders as they produce policies that could have a far-reaching impact on vulnerable populations
  • For adequate financial and material resources to meet the needs of those directly impacted by climate-related crises
  • For Christians to take seriously their responsibility to steward the Earth while also caring for the most vulnerable

 

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Image: REUTERS/Ives Herman

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