COP26: We are on the front lines of climate change, says Archbishop of Central America

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THE COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow drew church leaders from climate-vulnerable regions of the Anglican Communion, eager to lobby on behalf of their communities.

One of them is the Archbishop of Central America and Bishop of Panama, Monsignor Julio Murray. The role played by religious communities, he said last Friday, should not be underestimated when considering the impact of climate change.

“As a representative of the delegation of the Anglican Communion, I believe that COP26 is an opportunity to introduce concrete actions in response to one of our mission imperatives: to safeguard the integrity of all creation”, he declared. “Governments, private sector companies and multilateral organizations should recognize the strategic importance of religious actors. “

Central America is one of the regions most vulnerable to climate change and contains some of the richest ecosystems, as well as communities living on the front lines of the climate crisis. “All countries in the Central American region are experiencing flooding, as well as food shortages due to climate change. It also results in forced migration, which has an impact on the region, ”Archbishop Murray said.

The role played by church leaders, he said, was not only to raise awareness: it could also be a source of concrete solutions. “Anglicans around the world have long been engaged in environmental concerns. Anglicans are on the front lines of the climate emergency and are also actively involved in crafting solutions. We have the ability to leverage our common identity to mobilize our networks for climate justice and climate action. “

Among the results he hopes to see are building climate resilience at the local level, providing the latest clean energy technologies and equitably sharing the global burden, as richer countries shoulder their fair share of the burden. responsibility for causing the problem.

“These recommendations aim to offer concrete suggestions to policy makers,” he said. “These are some of the outcomes that we believe can materialize once COP26 is over. We therefore encourage religious leaders in the local context to reach out to their governments, find out what agreements they have signed and establish a strategic partnership with them in order to follow through and follow up on the commitments made. at COP26.

For the Archbishop, the solution also involves a spiritual awakening. He said: “Not only the Church of Central America, but also the churches that are part of the Anglican Communion are working to tackle climate change. We are expressing the power of the Holy Spirit in this unprecedented time. It involves more than advocacy and activism: it involves a deeper level of pastoral orientation, innovative approaches to financial and environmental management, and a spiritual and ecological vision, as we organize ourselves better to serve. We encourage governments to be partners with religious leaders in their various countries. “

He continued: “I would call on British Christians to come together to build resilience and promote justice. Encourage their own government to help the governments of developing countries in Central America and the world prepare programs that respond to the damage and impact caused by climate change. Join us as we pray and work together to be better stewards of creation, and to ensure that all people have what they need to live as human beings, with dignity and respect. .

The need for greater urgency during the Glasgow talks has been raised by church leaders in the Amazon. In a joint declaration of the Episcopal Conference of Amazonia and the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network, they express their “perplexity” and their “feeling of helplessness” in the face of the “catastrophic impact” that climate change has on humanity and the environment, and advocate for “tangible results leading to a change of course once and for all”.

On Saturday, the synod of the diocese of Norwich voted by 61 votes to five to divest from fossil fuels. The priest in charge of Martham and Repps with Bastwick, Thurne and Clippesby, the Reverend Dr Steven Sivyer, the mover of the motion, welcomed the result. He said: “I am delighted. There has been a reasoned and thoughtful debate, and this is only the beginning of a larger movement to look at our investments.

“Our Christian duty is to be good stewards of God’s creation. The purpose of this motion is that we do not take advantage of practices that destroy our environment, so that our actions are guided by our morals, which are guided by our faith.

On Monday, the Christian conservation charity A Rocha announced that it hopes to reclaim 75,000 acres of religious land for nature and reduce carbon emissions over the next five years. The UK Christian community owns or manages over 500,000 acres of land, from cemeteries and conference centers to urban community farms and agricultural estates. Twenty-five land managers with over 1,800 acres of land have signed up to participate in this initiative, and 40 more Christian land managers are considering joining the Partners in Action program.

A Rocha UK Conservation Manager Andy Lester explains: “From the native forests of southern England to the peatlands of Northern Ireland and Scotland, we have the opportunity to help Christians manage their lives. land in a way that not only benefits nature. but also helps to capture carbon.

Also on Monday, Christian Aid published a study highlighting the impact of climate change on the economies of climate-vulnerable countries. The research, led by Humboldt University in Berlin, showed that even if the global temperature rise was kept at 1.5 ° C, as stated in the Paris Agreement, vulnerable countries would face a GDP averages 33% by 2100. In the current climate trajectories, damage would be 64 percent, underscoring the need for both urgent emission reductions and financial support.

The association’s climate justice advisor, Nushrat Chowdhury, said: “Being from Bangladesh, I have seen how loss and damage is already affecting my people. Homes, land, schools, hospitals, roads are lost and damaged by floods and cyclones. People lose everything. Sea levels are rising and people are desperate to adapt to changing situations. “


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