A year ago, the UK hosted the United Nation’s 26th annual climate change conference, COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland. This year, COP27 will be hosted by Egypt from 6th-18th November in Sharm El Sheikh. In the run-up to COP26, the global Methodist family assembled a team of young people to mobilise the family on issues of climate justice and these young people met for the first time in Glasgow for the conference. A year on from COP26, two of those young people, James Appleby (Methodist Church in Britain) and Irene Abra (Methodist Church in Italy), reflect on the state of global climate action and look at what is being done to get the best possible outcome for everyone at COP27.
COP27 is best described as being not entirely unsuccessful. A few key wins were achieved at the conference which promises to have big implications for the future. 137 countries agreed to end deforestation by 2030, and 100 countries committed to reducing methane emissions by 30% by 2030. 153 countries put forward NDCs (nationally determined contributions/emissions targets) and will now be asked to re-evaluate these every year; COP27 is the first occasion where this will occur. However, on the whole, COP26 was quite disappointing for a conference that was being viewed by many as the ‘last best hope’ to ‘save’ the planet. Few significant commitments were made to reduce or end the use of fossil fuels, and the $100billion per year promised for mitigation and adaptation efforts in poorer countries pledged at COP15 failed to materialise. Many of the commitments that needed to be made were delayed for COP27, making this year’s conference all the more important.
Since November 2021, two significant events have rocked the geopolitical landscape. The first was Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, and the second was the great heatwaves of Summer 2022 in Europe and Asia. The former has greatly limited natural gas supply, while the latter has dealt a blow to hydroelectric and nuclear power, causing the current energy crisis. This issue has highlighted the need for energy security through renewable sources such as solar and wind but has also demonstrated the challenges we face as a result of climate change. Hopefully, this will encourage nations to act to mitigate and adapt, but this is far from guaranteed.
One of the primary focus areas of COP27 will be loss and damage, particularly securing the annual $100 billion that was not agreed upon at COP26. Keeping in mind the dramatic weather events of the past year, climate change adaptation is also high on the agenda, with the hope that more funding will be directed toward this. Perhaps the goal that underpins all of these is the hope that COP27 will cause a shift from pledging to implementing promises, both in setting up flows of finance to those in need and creating the projects that are needed to reduce emissions and adapt to changes.
In the run-up to COP27, an ecumenical movement of young Christian activists from around the world has materialised, we are called the Climate Youth Ecumenical Summit, or Climate YES for short.
As young Christian climate activists from across the globe, we feel there is a need to hold world leaders to account for decisions and promises made at COP26. We want to come together to share our environmental concerns and deepen the common bond of our faith. We want to create a Global Ecumenical Youth Climate platform, which will include representatives from each continent. We felt this call after meeting during COP26 in Glasgow, in November 2021 to discuss how we might work together towards COP27 in Egypt. There was a strong sense of energy and excitement for us to stand together and combine our efforts to see a greater impact in our hopes for climate justice.
On the 16th and 17th of September, we hosted hybrid events in Africa and Europe to bring together youth regionally and globally to campaign for climate change. These events had national hubs in different countries and then an online digital connection point throughout the day. The focus of the gatherings was on sharing and mobilising young activists. During these gatherings, we covered topics such as loss and damage, environmental racism, the role of the youth of faith in climate action, fossil fuels, and building resilience in affected communities. As an ecumenical movement, we felt the importance of having a shared voice by putting together the reflections we had during our regional gatherings and calling upon our leaders by sharing the Climate YES Statement at COP27 in ensuring that our voices are heard and part of this wider change.
You can find out more about Climate YES by going to their website: Climate YES – Climate YES