The COP26 Conference in Glasgow starts on Sunday 31st October – 5 weeks away. It’s a crucial moment for all of us. Leaders from every country in the world will gather to hammer out, by God’s grace, a way forward which will reduce our greenhouse gas outputs and move towards a greener world.

Most people are aware now of the urgency of the task: according to NASA, ‘nineteen of the hottest years have occurred since 2000, with the exception of 1998. The year 2020 tied with 2016 for the hottest year on record since record-keeping began in 1880.’  Climate change is an issue for everyone as we face disruption across the globe. It is especially challenging for people in poor countries who are suffering disproportionately as a result of carbon emissions for which they aren’t responsible. So climate change is about justice, creation care and the future.

I’ve been a member of the Church of England’s Environment Working Group since it was set up in 2015 – following a motion to the General Synod from the Diocese of Southwark. I was pleased to be asked to lead the Church of England’s online service for Climate Sunday on 12th September. The service was watched by thousands of people. It was made by Diocesan Environment Officers around the country, and our two readings – from the prophet Isaiah and the Parable of the Sower – speak both of the destruction we potentially face, and the hope that this can change if we all act together.

So – what can we do? Here are some suggestions.

  1. Here at St John’s, Waterloo, we are supporting the Faiths 4 Climate Justice global action days on 17th and 18th October. We will be unfurling a banner after church, along with many others across the country, calling for urgent action. Maybe your church would like to be involved too?
  2. On Saturday 23rd October there is a Vigil for COP at Southwark Cathedral from 2pm to 3.45.  It’s going to be a moment when we can all come together and pray for the success of COP, and for justice for everyone. It’s been organised by South Bank Churches. Church groups, or individuals, are invited to make a pilgrimage to the vigil.  You can make a pilgrimage on foot, by bike, by public transport, however you wish, from your place of worship -to Southwark Cathedral, arriving between 2 – 3pm. There will be interactive prayer stations from 2pm. At 3.20 everyone will come together for a time of prayer and reflection with singer Samantha Lindo and St Leonard’s Eco Church Community, ending with a blessing by the Bishop of Kingston.  Places are limited to 300 due to COVID restrictions – you can book here – but the service will also be livestreamed by Southwark Cathedral. I hope you can join us.
  3. Please pray! I am chair of Make COP Count, a gathering of faith groups from all over the country working together on climate. We are focusing above all on a just financial transition to a zero-carbon world. Please pray for our work, and for all who will be part of the COP negotiations in October. Here is a prayer which you could use:Creator God, giver of life,
    You sustain the earth and direct the nations.
    In this time of climate crisis
    grant us clarity to hear
    the groaning of creation and the cries of the poor;
    challenge us to change our lifestyles;
    guide our leaders to take courageous action;
    enable your church to be a beacon of hope;
    and foster within us a renewed vision
    of your purposes for your world;
    Through Jesus Christ our Lord,
    by and for whom all things were made.
  4. Finally, whatever you may have heard to the contrary, our individual behaviour does make a difference. If we act together we can change things for the better. Southwark Diocese is becoming an Eco Diocese. Could your church become an Eco Church?

For further information about the Diocese’s environment work visit our Environment webpages.