Update on COP26 Witness

Chris Martin, co-clerk of CEQ Climate Emergency Action reports on the recent launch of the West Midlands COP26 Coalition, coordinating action in our region ahead of the UN Climate Summit in November:

Quakers were visibly present at  COP26 Coalition West Midlands Climate Assembly launch.  Stourbridge Quaker Ginnie Wollaston is on the organising  group, and about ten Quakers were amongst the 70 or so people who took part in the assembly.

The event aimed to ‘connect with and beyond the climate movement, joining up with trade unions, faith groups, housing campaigners, anti-racist activists, LGBTQ+ campaigners, local community organisers and more’.  Councillor  and long-time local community organiser, Olly Armstrong, was one of the main organisers who Livvy Hanks had connected to Quakers recently. 

It was impressive to see the range of perspectives and approaches that were brought together and not just ‘usual suspects’. Climate justice activists in the West Midlands are a bit like the England football squad – we work together as a well oiled team with different members taking the lead on different aspects – but liaising all the time to make sure that we don’t duplicate or overlap our work. 

Quakers through Footsteps tend to take the lead on interfaith work and with Birmingham City Council.  CANWM is strong on network building, Friends of the Earth are good at connecting with the natural world.  We find this is a better approach than everybody falling in behind a single campaign.  It certainly enables Quakers and other faith groups to maintain a clear and distinctive faith position complementing the campaigning approach.  As Quakers we are asked to bring our weight and creditability to campaigns.

The Assembly plans to meet again on 4th August to continue to create a space where the different groups can come together with a real focus on the critically important COP26 conference.