COP26 in Glasgow was in many ways a disappointment. We began the two weeks with stories of deforestation pacts and anti coal coalitions, agreements facilitated by the UK government not Alok Sharma the president of COP. We heard from incredible speakers: Prince Charles and David Attenborough. The mood music in the press was largely positive. There was even an early study which showed that the promised commitments had limited global warming to 2 degrees above 1850 levels. Sadly, this was all smoke and mirrors.

One the final day of negotiations the strong wording on coal was very publicly diluted by India and China. It seemed to the press that we finally had the baddies, the big coal guzzling nations stopping progress at the last moment. While this is an annoyance, and the optics of it happening at the last moment was poorly timed to say the least, the diluted commitment to ‘Phase down coal’ was not the failure it seems. It has put a commitment to reduce coal in the UN agreements for the first time ever. That is an achievement!

What has been less focused on is the real failure of the COP. Yet again the wealthy nations of the world, including our own, have failed to put their money where their mouth is when it comes to helping the poorer nations of the world. Adaption and Mitigation money was promised to the tune of $100 billion a year for 5 years. Two years in and the average giving has been $70 billion, with no new commitment to make it up. Even more disappointing was a failure to commit a certain amount to so called ‘Loss and Damage’.

Loss and damage was a key ask of religious communities at the COP. It is also controversially known as ‘compensation and reparation’, money for poorer countries who emit very little greenhouse gasses but are being ravaged by storms and droughts. The developed and rich nations of the world have caused the pollution, the heating, the increased damage caused by weather. They are called upon by the UN to give money to help the blameless and damaged nations but haven’t. Giving money to repair damage looks a little too much like an acceptance of guilt.

Loss and damage money was left out of the Paris agreement five years ago as the wealthy nations threatened to torpedo the entre agreement over it. In Glasgow it was hoped they would commit a certain amount of money per year to it. Yet again their avarice has failed them, and the people who’s homes and livelihoods are being destroyed by the climate crisis every day.

Despite this, progress was made. There was agreed a mechanism by which Loss and Damage money can be paid, even if no one has agreed a set amount. Nations will now be required to make more frequent submissions of emissions targets, hopefully leading to a ratcheting of ambition.

1.5, the Paris agreement aim is still within reach of our fingertips. What we need now is to hold governments to account, ensure they keep their promises. After praying for the world and making green steps in our own lives, holding our politicians to account is the most important thing we can do.