Julie Valentine, CAFOD Parish volunteer in Our Lady Queen of Peace, East Sheen, shares her reflections on attending a recent inspiring ecumenical meeting and invites us all to take action to ensure the opportunities of the G7 meeting and COP26 climate talks this year are not wasted but seized, so that we can Reclaim Our Common Home.
In the lead-up to CAFOD’s campaign Reclaim our Common Home, I attended the online Churches Together South London: Big Gathering on the theme of “Churches Together for the Climate”. The meeting was brilliantly chaired by Bishop Karowei Dorgu; it included presentations from the YCCN (The Young Christian Climate Network), and from Faith for the Climate, a multifaith organisation that seeks to inspire and equip faith communities in their work on climate change. It focused on how to ensure that the two forthcoming international summits, the G7 in Cornwall in June and COP26 in Glasgow in November, will make world leaders focus creatively and positively on the climate crisis.
The YCCN presenters told of plans for a “Relay to COP26”, a walk or modern pilgrimage, which will start in Cornwall in June at the G7 and end in Glasgow at COP26 in November. Young people (and others) will walk in relays right through the country and reach southwest London in August. The walk aims to raise awareness of the urgency to act on climate change. They plan to invite churches along the way to participate, for example by holding parish climate change celebrations such as Climate Sunday and/or parishioners could join in for part of the walk.
We are all aware that CAFOD has been a pioneering organisation in calling for action on climate change, and offers many resources to help us mobilise our parishes, the most recent being holding a Parliament In Your Parish online event.
Shanon Shah, the Director of Faith for the Climate spoke about “making COP count”. This is an unparalleled, once-in-a-decade opportunity to get our point across, to involve the grassroots in order to ultimately influence world leaders and ensure that solid, practicable resolutions are made and, most importantly, implemented as a result of these two summits. In line with the aims of CAFOD’s campaign Reclaim our Common Home, they are calling for Governments to focus on “climate finance” to bring about “climate justice”.
They will be holding a series of workshops to help mobilise faith groups and they, like CAFOD, are calling on us all to write to our MPs and petition the Prime Minister to make COP work. There will also be a special prayer vigil on the afternoon of 23 October 2021 at Southwark Cathedral in London Bridge, to which all are invited (Covid19 regulations permitting). Alongside other organisations, CAFOD will lead a prayer station at the vigil sharing stories and voices of from the frontline of the climate crisis.
There were many important messages from the meeting that I came away with and few that particularly stayed with me are:
- The youth of today will be inheriting the climate problems of tomorrow. They need to be involved, to be heard and to be invited to the table of all discussions on climate change.
- Governments will only move if we tell them, tell them again and again, more loudly and get others to tell them too.
- Lobbying MPs does make a difference – Start now.
- Cutting aid to developing countries was a huge mistake, and we need to make noise about this.
The presentations at this session were informative, articulate and passionate, and left me convinced of the need to act now and do whatever we can to help bring climate action to the top of the agenda for those who have the power to “Reclaim our Common Home”.
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