The COP27 United Nations Climate Conference takes place in Sharm El Sheikh from Sunday 6 November to Friday 18 November 2022. As Christians, we are commended, even commanded, to care for God’s creation. Indeed, it is one of what we call The Five Marks Of Mission.“To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.” This article gives some suggestions as to how you can pray at such a significant time as this.
“Put that light out” was the cry of the air raid wardens in World War Two. A cry that seems to resonate with our lives today. Across war-torn Ukraine, with winter approaching, with blackouts common due to Russian attacks on power stations, the government asks people to save electricity. While here in the UK, it’s not falling bombs, but the rising price of energy that leads to us to think twice whether we need the lights on at home lest an unaffordable bill falls through our letterbox.
A year on from the COP26, the UN Climate Summit hosted in Glasgow in Nov 2021, the world feels a different place. Then, the climate and environmental crisis filled our media feeds. Now, it’s war, energy prices, inflation, and political instability. There has been little talk of climate change in the two recent leadership campaigns as to whom will be our next Prime Minister. Looking for national energy security in an insecure world drives us to search for new sources of fossil fuels closer to home, which appear at odds with commitment of an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 promised by the UK Government a year ago.
It’s not that we have been unaware of the impacts of climate change this year. England experienced record-breaking heatwaves last July, along with the rest of Europe, leading to a rise in excess deaths, not from Covid but dehydration and heat stroke. But memories can be short lived. Be honest, when did you last think about climate change? When was it last mentioned, prayed for in your church?
There are so many pressing and immediate issues that demand our attention and cause us to fear. Yet, for many the issue of climate change continues to be equally as pressing. Look at an image of the Earth from space at night. Many areas shine with lights. Many are black, including much of Africa. Places where people feel the impact of climate change first yet who have contributed little to its cause.
It is in Africa, that the next UN Climate Summit – COP27 – is being held from Sunday 6 November to Friday 18 November in Sharm El Sheikh on the Red Sea in Egypt. At this gathering of a fragmenting world, the UK passes the baton over to the government of Egypt to take a lead on encouraging the nations response to climate change. Inspired by God’s act of creation in bringing the fragmented creation to order, Paul declares that “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (2 Cor 4:6) through whom creation came to be (Col 1:16). With our eyes and hearts enlightened by God’s hope for the world, as people who followers of Jesus, we need to be in prayer for the nations and for ourselves.
Dr Mike Morecroft is President of the John Ray Initiative, the Christian environmental education organisation. A leading ecologist and a lead author for the recent UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group 2 report on the impacts of climate change, Mike will be attending COP27. He shares some prayer points to guide churches and Christians in their prayers over the coming weeks while COP27 meets.
For the governments and people attending COP27
- That each of us and governments around the world will see and fully understand the seriousness of the climate crisis despite the many other pressing issues that affect people’s lives.
- For countries’ leaders and negotiators to come with a commitment to accelerating progress and finding just and fair solutions.
- For the government of Egypt in leading negotiations – that they may act wisely and creatively. Also that they will be able to ensure safety and smooth organisation. For our own government, that they will continue to show leadership in addressing climate change despite their domestic problems.
- That the war in Ukraine will not cause paralysis in negotiations. That Russia will engage with other countries and the current rising cost of fossil fuels will spur countries to seek greener sources of energy for the future.
- For safe travel to the conference and that ways will be found to allow delegates from poor countries to attend, despite the high costs, so that their voices may be heard. That voices of children and young people will also be heard.
- That scientists from the IPCC and those from campaigning and faith groups will bring constructive contributions that will be listened to.
For actions towards moderating climate change at COP27
- For countries to come with revised plans to reduce their carbon emissions that match the urgency of the crisis, reducing the potential warming by 2100 from 2.5-3 degrees based on commitments made at COP26 last year towards the safer 1.5 degrees centigrade agreed at COP21 in 2015. So far, only twenty-five counties have done so.
- For the $100 Billion per year promised at Paris Climate Summit back in 2015 to help developing countries use green technology to improve the lives of their peoples, to be finally delivered.
- For the issue of ‘Loss and Damage’ suffered by developing countries to have greater focus, and commitments made to supply funding to address this by the most polluting countries, including our own.
- That the links between nature and climate will be clearly seen and understood, and that action on climate and protecting ecosystems will go hand in hand.
The urgency is clear. The task seems daunting. A huge ask. Yet God’s people are a people of hope. In our praying and acting, let’s take inspiration from another gathering at the Red Sea long ago. Where faced with the impossibility of rescue, God pushed ‘the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land… and the Israelites went through… on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.’ (Exo 14:21,22).
At COP27 pray that the nations of the Earth will take further steps from slavery to fossil fuels towards freedom for all people across the planet, together with the whole community of God’s rich creation with whom we share the Earth.