Quakers and the UN Climate Talks – How do we seize the moment?

Claire Bowman reflects on upcoming climate talks, to be hosted in the UK in November, and how Quakers can take action. (Updated with more information on how to join in.)

Several Central England Quakers joined a regional zoom session put on by Quaker Peace and Social Witness in April, to learn more about COP26 (26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties) and the preparations for it, which are underway.

Olivia Hanks, QPSW Programme Manager for Economics and Sustainability explained that the talks in Glasgow in November will address what world powers can do to take forward their commitments to reduce climate change, made at the Paris conference in 2016.

QPSW has singled out two issues for UK Quakers to focus on. Should developed countries be able to ‘pay to pollute’? Should there be a £100 billion climate change loss and damage fund to which all countries should contribute and if so how much should the UK commit to it?

The UK government has committed to reduce emissions. Are the policies and actions of our government consistent with achieving it? Quakers are calling for an end to fossil fuel subsidies and tax breaks for instance.

QPSW suggest some actions that Friends can take:

  • There are going to be monthly spiritual preparation sessions online which you can attend.
  • You can write to your MP or join in the postcard action in advance of the G7 summit in June, calling for a global loss and damage fund.
  • You can also get together with other local churches taking part in a relay from the G7 to COP26, which will pass through Coventry & Birmingham in August. Pete Doubtfire at Peace Hub is involved in this – please get in touch if you would like to join in: office@peacehub.org.uk
  • The Loving Earth Project is an arts project that celebrates the things we love that are threatened by growing environmental breakdown. This creative multimedia exploration includes a community textile project which you can contribute to, or borrow to display, to inspire others. There are plans to run workshops for young people to respond to this project and make their voices heard at COP26.
  • Climate Action Network West Midlands are also coordinating a local response, which several Central England Quakers are involved in.

If you would like to join together with others in the Area Meeting to take action on this issue, please get in touch with CEQ Climate Emergency Action (CEQ CEA): lowcarbon@centralenglandquakers.org.uk

Anyone taking action can also email OonaghR@quaker.org.uk with news of what is happening. QPSW staff are keen to know what Friends up and down the country will be doing.