Quakers and COP26

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A knitted panel with an earth in the centre, circled by a ribbon and tag saying "not for sale". Various images associated with the climate crises border it.
Knitted panel, created by Quakers working with the Loving Earth Project.

Why are the Quakers Interested?

“We do not own the World and its riches are not ours to dispose of at will” (Advices & Queries 42).

Quakers believe that we should look after the world. That we should avoid harming the environment and exploiting or overusing the resources that we are lucky enough to have control over. COP26 provides an opportunity for countries to try to tackle some of the harm that people have caused to the environment.

With forest fires, droughts and floods around the world growing in frequency and strength, we find ourselves increasingly surrounded by examples of climate breakdown. People who have benefited the least from the fossil-fuel era are now suffering the most from the impacts of climate breakdown. These are also the same groups of people that have been marginalised throughout history by economic exploitation and racism

We can all make a contribution but without government intervention it will never be enough. While we welcome progress that has been made, including the Climate Change Act 2019, the picture remains challenging, particularly over the next decade.

What do the Quakers want?

Quakers want to focus on justice. They have long understood that this violence against people and planet is driven by an exploitative economic system that puts profit above all else.

We are calling for a fair share of emissions reductions from wealthy, industrialised countries. In particular, we want to see far greater support for communities hit by climate disasters and for a just transition to a fossil-free future for all. Consequently, Quakers in Scotland are calling for:

  • Caution on carbon markets and mechanisms, which push the problem of emissions on to other countries. We’re worried that there will be too much reliance on these by wealthy countries, rather than facing our responsibilities for our fair share of emissions cuts and actions.
  • Funding for loss and damage: Recognising our moral obligations to the global south by:
    - amplifying the voices of those in marginalised countries already affected by climate change, ensuring they have a strong voice at COP26 and beyond.
    - accepting our moral duty to give sanctuary to refugees escaping from countries suffering the effects of climate change.
    Loss and damage is a core part of the Paris Agreement, and back in 2010 at COP16 the COP countries committed to $100bn finance per year by 2020 for developing countries, but this target has not been reached. Discussions on this will be a critical factor at COP26.
  • Nature-based solutions: We support approaches which recognise the deep connection between the Earth and the Spirit and that are truly ‘sustainable’ because they work with the balance of nature. We oppose approaches that position land, water and oceans primarily as assets for human exploitation. Nature (forests, agriculture and ecosystems) can become a climate solution for absorbing carbon and for protecting against climate impacts. COP26 will start to discuss how to integrate NBS into the Paris implementation strategy. Within this we call for:
    - an immediate end to the use of public money to support fossil-fuel projects both in the UK and overseas, and a clear plan for how the UK will rapidly phase out fossil-fuel energy in a just and equitable way.
    - the UK and Scottish governments to invest in a green and just recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, prioritising measures that will promote equality and wellbeing as well as cutting emissions.

The urgent need to transition to zero carbon presents an opportunity to build a fairer, healthier, more equal society in which everyone can flourish. But this will only happen if policies are designed to achieve it.