Hope amidst devastation as COP26 concludes

By Karri Munn-Venn

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.”
Romans 12.12

Alok Sharma, the British MP serving as President of COP26, was visibly shaken as he gaveled the adoption of the Glasgow Climate Pact on Saturday afternoon at the conclusion of a challenging two weeks of negotiations at COP26, the UN Climate Conference. Several countries and negotiating groups—almost universally from the Global South—expressed sadness, frustration, and a sense of betrayal, both at the process that had led to the decision, and the decision itself.

COP26 was convened at the end of a year that saw multiple unprecedented climate-induced natural disasters in the Global North—extreme wildfires and a deadly heat dome in BC, severe drought in the prairies, flooding in Germany and Belgium, and a tropical cyclone hitting Australia—that some thought might provoke a shift in perspective among the world’s wealthiest nations. It was also a year that saw more and more public outreach, engagement and activism. Despite expressions of solidarity with the Global South, and even a sense of responsibility for historic emissions, commitments related to the mechanisms and resources of global climate finance (for both adaptation and loss&damage) fell far short of what is so urgently needed.

There was a glimmer of hope for a more ambitious outcome to the annual climate deliberations, however, when the first draft of the Pact was released on November 10. For the first time in history, “fossil fuels” were named in the draft decision text of a UN climate conference. This in itself, is as shocking as it is significant, representing a long-overdue acknowledgement of fossil fuels as contributors to the climate crisis. Even though this text was ultimately watered down, the mention of fossil fuels remains. Not the outcome we were looking for, but small steps forward.

Now, as we look to the future, it is abundantly clear that (1) much more needs to be done, and (2) we are making a difference through our actions, our faithful witness, our amplification of the demands from the Global South, and our advocacy for climate justice.

As COP26 was set to conclude, South African human rights activist, Kumi Naidoo, issued a passionate plea to people across the globe. “We must not give up hope,” he said. “Those that are pushing for the worst outcome [at COP26] want you to feel hopeless. They want you to feel like our efforts do not count. And the message we must take from this COP is that this is a moment of intensification of resistance to the fossil fuel industry.”


CPJ’s Karri Munn-Venn participated in a joint ecumenical delegation of The United Church of Canada (UCCan) and For the Love of Creation (FLC) to virtually attend the United Nations Climate Change COP 26 October 31 – November 12, 2021.

Delegate members included:

Delegates prepared a series of blog posts that can be found on the FLC website. Former CPJ policy analyst, Darlene O’Leary released Daily Highlights during COP26 which can be viewed on the FLC Facebook Page. And delegate Janet Gray released #DailySeeds on Instagram which can be viewed @bckairos or in @forlovecreation’s highlights.

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