Representatives of Scottish faith communities take part in a multi-faith dialogue on climate change at the Garnethill Synagogue in Glasgow on October 31, 2021, ahead of the start of the UN climate conference COP26. (RCN Photo/Brian Roewe)
Less than a year after the Glasgow summit on climate change, Scottish faith leaders are among those who fear the “fragile victory” achieved there may be backsliding.
In a letter to the head of COP26, the United Nations climate change conference held in November 2021, representatives from over 30 Scottish faith communities urged him to ensure countries adhere to the commitments they made in Scotland.
“We call on you to ensure that the COP26 commitments are implemented and that climate justice and real energy security are accessible to all,” says the letter, organized by Interfaith Scotland, addressed to Alok Sharma, the British politician and president of COP26, who visited the country on Monday to mark six months since the conclusion of the Glasgow Climate Pact.
As part of the agreement, the countries have committed to come to the next United Nations climate summit, scheduled for November in Egypt, with new and improved plans to reduce emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases – an acknowledgment that nations are currently behind in meeting the Paris Agreement. goal of limiting the average global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Scientists said exceeding that level would expose millions more people to extreme heat waves, droughts, rising seas and extreme storms. Religious groups and environmental activists have highlighted the disproportionate effect these impacts are likely to have on already marginalized and vulnerable communities; the UN’s leading climate science body estimates that more than 3 billion people live in areas highly vulnerable to climate change.
The UN climate change conference, COP26, was held in Glasgow, Scotland, in November 2021. Less than a year later, the country’s faith leaders fear countries are faltering in their commitments in the face of emerging crises, such as the war in Ukraine. and rising inflation and energy costs. (RCN Photo/Brian Roewe)
The Glasgow Pact also agreed to a “gradual reduction” of coal and fossil fuel subsidies, which marked the first time that international climate negotiations formally recognized the need to reduce the use of fossil fuels, which are the main driver of climate change.
Under the Glasgow Pact, nations also declared the need for wealthier countries, such as the United States and the European Union, to provide support to developing countries for loss and damage already suffered due to impacts of climate change. He also acknowledged the inability of developed countries to provide $100 billion a year by 2020 to developing countries to help them take action on climate mitigation and adaptation, with aspirations to achieve this goal. now by 2023.
Commenting in Glasgow on Monday, Sharma said “the world has changed” in the short time since the conclusion of the Glasgow Climate Pact, as war in Ukraine has sent energy prices skyrocketing and worries as inflation soared amid economic recoveries from the coronavirus pandemic, which, along with war and climate change, has exacerbated food insecurity around the world.
“Climate change is a chronic danger. A danger that will be with us for generations to come,” Sharma said. “And so we have to continue to deal with that, because we also have to deal with the pressures of the present. That’s why it’s imperative that we deliver the Glasgow Climate Pact.”
The religious leaders in their letter requested a meeting with Sharma to discuss the progress made so far. Maureen Sier, director of Interfaith Scotland, called the Glasgow Climate Pact a “fragile victory”, echoing the words Sharma used to describe the deal once it was struck.
Sier told EarthBeat that a major concern is the lack of information on what has been done to follow up on the Glasgow Pact.
“There is deep concern that the climate crisis has slipped off the radar of the government” due to various crises around the world, she said in an email.
“However, faith communities are absolutely convinced that the climate crisis is a matter of global justice and is indeed a devastating global emergency,” she said.
Among the groups that signed the letter were the Church of Scotland, the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (the development agency of the Scottish Catholic Church), the Muslim Council of Scotland, the Scottish Episcopal Church, Christian Aid Scotland and the Sisters of Notre Dame, British Province.
A sign displaying a prayer message for the United Nations climate change conference, COP26, is seen during an interfaith climate event at St. George’s Tron Church on November 2, 2021, in central Glasgow, Scotland . (RCN Photo/Brian Roewe)
Sharma said in his speech that the current crises “should increase, not diminish, our resolve to deliver what the world has agreed here in Glasgow. Because they show with devastating clarity why it is imperative to do so. And to do it now”.
A recent report by the UK-based Guardian found that progress towards the Glasgow Pact targets has been limited, with countries still short of climate finance and coal use and deforestation accelerating, while fossil fuel companies have plans for multi-billion dollar oil and gas projects that if brought online the world would exceed the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C temperature target .
Scottish faith leaders have urged Sharma to ensure countries end all new oil and gas exploration, build sustainable economies powered by renewable energy and take action to prevent energy poverty around the world.
“Many of us are working across Scotland to promote community action on climate change,” they wrote in the letter. “We will redouble our efforts and assure you of our continued support to ensure the implementation of the commitments made at COP26.”
The next climate summit, COP27, is scheduled for November 8-20 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, a resort town on the Red Sea. COP27 is expected to highlight the issues and concerns of African nations and developing countries, many of which are on the front lines of climate change.
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