By the Revd Dr Cate Williams, Environmental Engagement Officer for the Diocese of Gloucester
“I find myself saddened but not surprised to read press articles stating that the decisions made by political leaders are not enough to keep climate change to the 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels that was the commitment at COP21 in Paris, in 2015. The challenge is highlighted in the carbon tracker report.
“There have been high hopes for COP26 and some good commitments but not fast or deep enough for what is needed. There is talk of moving towards mitigation as a focus, accepting that there will be increased extreme weather which in our region will likely focus on flooding, and working to mitigate the effects.
“I am not ready to give up however, neither do I believe that God gives up on what God has created. While we need to take seriously that flood protection will be needed in places, and in fact as a Diocese are already working on this, we are not giving up on the goal of keeping the rise in global temperature to as close to 1.5 degrees as we possibly can.
“I was encouraged on Friday when I attended a zoom presentation hosted by the UK COP Presidency’s engagement team. While there was realism about the current commitments not being enough, there was also a sense that steps forward have been taken which can be built upon. It is not enough but it is not over.
“The mobilisation of the grassroots should not be underestimated. Our awareness has been raised significantly, and more and more people are wanting to both work for change locally and put pressure on our governments to make the appropriate central legislation to support change. Catherine Ross, Church of England National Sustainability Officer writes: ‘The standout quote from the day, for me, was from Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition Movement,
“If we wait for governments to do it, it’ll be too late, and if we just act as individuals, it’ll be too little, but if we act as communities, it might just be enough.”'”