Monday 7 November marks the start of COP27, the 27th round of the ‘Conference of the Parties’ on climate change with world leaders (including, thanks to a change of mind, our own Prime Minister Rishi Sunak) gathering in Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt for this year’s set of talks.
In 2021 there was a widespread, energetic mobilisation of churches, people of all faiths, and none, around the climate summit in Glasgow, but this feels like a very long time ago now. Although the outcome fell short of the ambition, there was a new sense of urgency after Glasgow’s COP26 and a new sense of hope that change was possible. Today a host of crises, including conflict in Ukraine and the soaring cost of energy and food, aren’t just affecting people in the UK but around the world, making it harder to see how desperately needed action to prevent climate catastrophe is going to happen.
In particular, wealthier countries have long promised the necessary finance to help poorer, more climate-vulnerable countries to reduce the harms of climate change and adapt to its effects, as well as to pay for the loss and damage they are already experiencing on the frontline of the crisis. Failure to deliver on these promises – including by the UK – has deepened mistrust among these poorer countries.
This year’s talks have been called the ‘African COP,’ hosted in Egypt and with voices from the African continent louder than ever in demanding justice. Climate is a justice issue – we are all aware of the more extreme weather events like flooding, droughts and wildfires that have ravaged our planet this year. But people in poverty are facing the worst of these events; are not equipped to survive them; yet did the least to burn the fossil fuels that triggered this global heating crisis.
As Christians we are called to seek God’s kingdom here on earth – to hold on to an eternal hope for all creation as well as for ourselves. This can be difficult to do at times like this. But we know that God works through ordinary people – people like us. So what can each of us do to be a sign of hope in facing the climate crisis, to spread hope among our communities and our world?
One area we can be hopeful for change is in the finance sector. A growing number of Christians are looking for ways to green their money – you can sign up for monthly tips and advice on your own banking, pensions, saving and spending choices here. More broadly we need to hold banks to account for the way they fund the fossil fuel-addicted economy, including our ongoing reliance on single use plastics. You can contact your bank as part of our Don’t Bank on Plastics campaign.
There are also glimpses of alternative approaches to how we pay for climate finance: our Church Action for Tax Justice campaign has seen increasing momentum build this year around our call for wealth taxes. Politicians of all stripes, various denominational leaders and wealthy individuals themselves have joined the call for new taxes on the extremely rich, which would address inequality and raise revenue to help pay for loss, damage, and adapting to the reality of a climate-ravaged world.
Holding onto hope for our broken world is hard to do alone. We’re gathering a movement of Christians who want to take action with their money and speak out for money to be used by banks, businesses and in the tax system, in ways that shape a fairer, greener world. We’re relaunching later this month as the JustMoney Movement, and hosting our JustMoney conference on 19 November in London. Join us! You can book your free space here.