As UN climate talks get underway in Egypt next week, find out how you can pray for negotiations and take action with your church.
COP27 will be held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Image: Unsplash.
This time next week, world leaders will be gathered in Sharm El Sheikh for COP27 (6–18 November). This is the 27th ‘Conference of the Parties’ – the annual UN climate talks – where almost every country meets to negotiate a coordinated global response to climate change. In November last year, the UK held COP26 in Glasgow and this year the baton passes to Egypt.
In the lead-up to the talks, where are we at and why does this COP matter? The Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) Synthesis Report last week found that the world is on track for a catastrophic 2.5°C of global heating. So it seems 1.5°C could become out of reach.
At COP26 last year, countries committed to strengthen their climate plans before COP27, but the report found that almost all have failed to do so, with just 24 nations submitting updated NDCs before the deadline and hardly any high-emitting countries improving their pledges.
In addition, the $100 billion per year from 2020 that wealthy nations promised to help lower-income countries respond to climate change is another year overdue. It is vital that progress is made in the area of climate finance at COP27, and that those in climate-vulnerable communities get the finance they need to respond to worsening climate impacts. After all, they’re the ones bearing the brunt of a crisis they didn’t cause.
Meanwhile, the climate emergency continues to intensify. This year has seen major weather events hit our headlines on an almost weekly basis: from prolonged drought in East Africa to devastating flooding in Pakistan. COP27 is being billed as an ‘African’ COP, and it needs to reflect the voices of those in African countries and climate-vulnerable nations across the world who are living with the life-threatening impacts of climate change.
Plenary session at last year's COP26 in Glasgow. Image: UNFCCC
What can you do?
As the church, we have a vital role to play in continuing to use our voices to put pressure on world leaders to take action on climate – and we have an incredible opportunity to do that during this COP too. On the Global Day of Action, on Saturday 12 November in the middle of COP27, thousands of people will join a mass mobilisation across the UK, with marches planned in many towns and cities.
View the full list of march locations and find and join one near you. Why not get together with your church eco group or small group, or share in your church notices to spread the word? Thousands of people including Christians and churches took the streets during COP26 to speak out for climate justice, and this year promises to be just as big. When many of us lift our voices together, we have the power to move decision-makers and effect change.
The recent turmoil in the UK Government is even more of a reason to get involved. As Prime Minister Rishi Sunak takes up office, now is a crucial moment to take action and show our leaders how much the climate crisis matters and how much those most impacted by it matter too.
As well as marching, why not write to your MP and tell them that the climate emergency matters to you, and that you want to see leaders take action at COP27? You could send a joint letter from your church, highlighting that climate justice is something your community feels deeply about.
Prayer for COP27
As talks unfold in Egypt, lift world leaders and the negotiations up to God in prayer. You could meet with others from your church to pray specifically for COP27, or lead your congregation in prayer during your church gathering on the Sunday before or during the two-week event (6 and 13 November).
Getting connected to creation is a great way to approach praying for the climate, so why not go for a walk or sit in a park with friends or family? Notice the trees, plants, wildlife, water and air around you and thank God for his creation before lifting it up in prayer.
Here are some prayer points to get you started:
Pray that wealthy nations will honour the pledge they made to provide money to help lower-income countries adapt to the climate crisis. Ask God for this money to reach communities most affected by the climate emergency.
Pray that leaders will be held to account for their agreement to limit global heating to a relatively safer limit of 1.5°C.
Pray that even more countries will commit to end funding for fossil fuels overseas. Ask God that those who have committed to end funding will implement these plans with integrity.
Pray that the voices of African communities and climate-vulnerable nations will be heard at COP27 and be effective in influencing change.
Pray for comfort and protection for communities who are facing longer droughts, devastating flooding and more frequent extreme storms because of the climate crisis.
Lift up people whose income has been affected by changing weather conditions, who are struggling to feed themselves and their families. Pray for the provision of nourishing food, rainfall where it is needed and blessings for their next harvest.
Pray that the church across the UK and around the world will be committed to seeking justice for those most impacted by climate change; that they will intercede for them in prayer and use their voice to speak out for effective action from our leaders.
Take your church through the next steps
If you haven’t already, download the Climate Emergency Toolkit, start the conversation with your church about the climate emergency and begin planning your response.