Cop26 and beyond: from blah blah blah to Geht doch!
For two weeks delegates, lobbyists and observers from around the world gathered in Glasgow for the United Nations climate conference, Cop26. Glasgow Churches Together, Eco Congregation Scotland and others across Scotland had been preparing for months and we were delighted and excited to welcome guests from across Europe and around the world. It was not easy with Covid casting a shadow over proceedings and we were acutely aware that there was insufficient accommodation for so many guests but nevertheless it happened and the streets of Glasgow came alive with pilgrims, protestors and faith groups all crying out for change.
Greta Thunberg called it all ‘blah, blah, blah’ and dismissed the Cop as a failure. Those who laboured hard in meetings and struggled to agree declarations and decisions were more measured and more positive. While the Cop failed to agree in cuts to greenhouse gas emissions that would securely limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, there was progress with stronger national commitments, agreements on methane emissions, deforestation and a partnership between China and the United States, the world’s two biggest polluters, to work together. From Europe Franz Timmermans, Vice President of the European Commission, was much in evidence, pushing for stronger action and promoting the role of the European Union and the European Green Deal.
Church leaders came together in an ecumenical service at Glasgow Cathedral on Sunday 7 Glasgow November, midway through the CoP. Organised with valuable input from European Churches, CEC and the World Council of Churches it was global event the likes of which have likely never been seen before in the Cathedral's 800 years.
A high point for churches in Scotland was the arrival of pilgrims from Germany, Sweden and elsewhere in Europe, some of whom had walked for months to get to Glasgow. Their motto was Geht doch, which when listening to them as we walked together, I came to understand as implying ‘Just get on with it'. And after all the discussions, the statements and declarations it is a good motto and message for churches and governments across Europe. The time for talking, the time for ‘blah blah blah’ about climate change is over. Now is the time for action: across Europe let’s just get on with it!