Faith Pavilion will be a first at COP 28 in Dubai, local observers will be there

Rev. Deborah Walker will be going to COP 28 in Dubai with the Christian Climate Observers Program.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) released an alarming study November 20, just days before COP 28, the UN Climate Change Conference scheduled to run November 30 – December 12 in Dubai.

The Emissions Gap report “finds that the world is heading for a temperature rise far above the Paris Agreement goals unless countries deliver more than they have promised.”

It points out that the 2015 Paris Agreement target was 1.5°C  above pre-industrial levels, but said the world now appears likely to warm by as much as 2.9°C degrees by the end of the century. 

Inger Anderson, Executive Director of UNEP, said:

The first global stocktake, concluding at COP 28 in Dubai this year, will inform the next round of NDCs [nationally determined contributions], which will set new national emissions targets for 2035.

Ambition in these NDCs must bring greenhouse gas emissions in 2035 to levels consistent with the 2°C and 1.5°C pathways. Stronger implementation in this decade will help to make this possible.

The world needs to lift the needle out of the groove of insufficient ambition and action, and start setting new records on cutting emissions, green and just transitions, and climate finance – starting now.

Local involvement

Samuel Chiu felt participation in COP 27 was valuable, though the results were mixed.

Samuel Chiu is heavily involved with Christian participation in COP 28, as he has been in earlier COP gatherings.

He emailed:

  • Once again, I am in the leadership role of Christian Climate Observers Program (CCOP). This year we will have a team of 40 participants and leaders, from 10 different countries, with officially registered observer credentials, participating at COP 28 in Dubai. Besides myself, there are three from Canada with the CCOP team; two of them are from BC (one from Vancouver).
  • There will be a Faith Pavilion at COP28, for the first time in UNFCCC COPs history. According to the Pavilion coordination group, there will be 60-plus events being featured at the Pavilion throughout the duration of COP28, with more than 300 panelists / speakers. I helped organize or provide assistance in the following events at the Pavilion.
    1. A Rocha is involved with some of the Faith Pavilion events.

      Faith and Nature: Partners in Landscape Restoration and Nature-Based Solutions: Co-sponsored by A Rocha International, GreenFaith and World Vision International (December 2)

    2. Religious Philanthropy: A Catalyst for Climate Action:  Co-sponsored by Faith For Our Planet and World Evangelical Alliance (December 6)
    3. Exploring Religious Resistance to Climate Action: Co-sponsored by Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development (ICSD), Tearfund and the CCOP partners, including A Rocha (December 11)

There will also be a series of 1.5 hour ‘Youth Hangout’ sessions at the Faith Pavilion, providing time and space for younger registered participants at the COP for networking, discussion, etc. 

Deborah Walker is the CCOP participant from Vancouver. She emailed:

I am so excited about arriving in solidarity with folks from all over the world who carry the same hope and struggle that I do. I am a United Church minister; I serve Shaughnessy Heights United Church in Vancouver. We have been working faithfully with a local climate justice team, Sierra Club and Climate Action Network.

The care for creation is our business. I pray that the church universal and all people of earth who live a faith-life will be on the correct side of history – and do everything humanly possible to create a healthy world for the generations to come. Our call is to be a good ancestor.

She sent out her first daily newsletter November 24; go here to sign up.

Christian Climate Observers

The Christian Climate Observers Program (CCOP) is:

. . . a non-denominational Christian presence advocating for God’s creation at the COP28 climate summit. . . . We are training the next generation of UN climate observers from a Christian and missional perspective.

Members of CCOP include A Rocha Canada, A Rocha International, Lausanne / World Evangelical Alliance Creation Care Network, Eden Vigil and Young Evangelicals for Climate Action.

At COP 27, CCOP arranged a dinner with world-renowned climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe (left) and leading climate activist, Bill McKibben.

Writing after COP 27, Chiu acknowledged that there were significant failures, but also positive elements. He said:

The high point of attending conferences like a climate COP is always connecting with people in person rather than through a computer screen. It is consistently a gift to meet others over coffee or meals, in follow-up conversation after a seminar, or even at ‘divine appointments’ while in a line or taking a short break on a bench. . . .

As a team, CCOP organized meetings with some extraordinary people at COP27. We arranged a dinner with the leading climate activist, Bill McKibben, and the world-renowned climate scientist, Katharine Hayhoe. What a delight to see our young participants seated in circles, in deep conversation with these legends, drawing on their wisdom while also being heard!

Faith-based engagement

A page devoted to the Faith-based engagement at COP 28 on the UNEP site noted:

UNEP, through the Faith for Earth Coalition, launched a robust COP 28 preparation process in January 2023 under the mechanism of the Interfaith Coordination Group on Climate Change. . . . Key elements of this engagement include the Faith Pavilion at COP 28 and the pre-COP Consultation Series to prepare our networks for it, and the High-level Faith Leaders Meeting.

The Interfaith Coordination Group on Climate Change serves as a coordination hub for collaborative Interfaith engagement towards COP 28. The Group meets monthly to share their vision, plans for COP 28, and to network with like-minded FBOs. It is a global effort made up of approximately 60 actors from 35 different FBOs and civil society NGOs.

The Core Team is a smaller action group that meet weekly to provide key strategic direction to the Coordination Group, and is comprised of the following institutions:

Abu Dhabi Statement

The Abu Dhabi gathering was covered by local media. In this photo, COP 28 President-Designate Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaberm(centre) stands beside the WEA’s Thomas Schirrmacher.

As part of the lead-up to COP 28, the Global Faith Leaders Summit took place November 6 – 7 in Abu Dhabi.

Among the speakers, who represented all major religions, were Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby; Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance Bishop Thomas Schirrmacher; General Secretary of the World Council of Churches Dr. Jerry Pillay; Cardinal Pietro Parolin (representing Pope Francis); and Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I.

All were among the 28 religious leaders who signed the Abu Dhabi Interfaith Statement for COP 28, which “demands transformative action to keep 1.5°C within reach and serve affected and vulnerable communities.”

The statement was delivered to COP28 President Dr. Sultan Al Jaber at the gathering.

To subscribe to the daily CCOP newsletter go here. I will endeavour to post comments and reflections from Chiu, Walker and others during COP 28.

There are some local / Canadian initiatives related to COP 28:

  • United Nations Climate Change Conference Prayer Nights:

Join others from North Shore Alliance to pray for COP28, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, November 30 to December 12. 

We will meet every night from 9 – 9:15 pm on Zoom, and would love to have everyone join us! You can choose to join once, for several nights or stick around for all of them. 

Sign up: Email [email protected] and we will send you the Zoom link closer to the event.

I’m sure they would welcome non-North Shore prayer partners.

  • For the Love of Creation, which represents a wide range of Christian denominations, is hosting ‘Road to COP’ webinars (November 30, December 5) and is encouraging local ‘Candles for COP’ vigils or prayer services during the weekend of December 8 – 10. 
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