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Shilpita Mathews, an Operation Noah trustee, environmental economist and member of Young Christian Climate Network, will produce daily videos from COP26 in Glasgow that we will share via Operation Noah’s social media channels. Here, Shilpita reflects on being an official UN observer at COP26 and what she hopes to achieve.
I will be going to the United Nations’ climate change conference, COP26, in Glasgow. As an official UNFCCC observer (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), I will be in the blue zone of the conference where key negotiations will take place and where delegates from 197 parties and observer NGOs will also be, including observers from Christian NGOs.
This is a chance to make faith-based voices heard at an historic conference that could ultimately determine whether or not we limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, a goal that will require global emissions to be effectively halved by 2030 and for ‘net-zero’ emissions to be achieved by 2050.
Countries will be making important decisions around adaptation and resilience, loss and damage, and climate financing for developing countries. And numerous organisations, such as YCCN, Tearfund and Christian Aid, are calling on leaders to be much more ambitious in their commitments.
What is the Christian Climate Observers Program?
I have been selected as an observer as part of the Christian Climate Observers Program (CCOP). This programme trains the next generation of climate leaders from a Christian and missional perspective. CCOP is organised by a consortium of organisations, such as the Lausanne Network and A Rocha. At the conference itself, I will be representing the World Evangelical Alliance.
My goals for COP26
Ensuring social and racial justice is at the heart of climate action
I will use this opportunity to call on UK Christian leaders to link climate action with racial and social justice. Most importantly, I want to diversify the conversation on climate justice by calling youth from minority communities to make connections globally and to take climate action locally.
As a trustee for Operation Noah and a member of the Young Christian Climate Network, I am eager to build on the momentum of COP26 as Christian NGOs respond to the call for climate justice. Following CCOP, I hope to speak at churches, write about my experiences for Christian charities and use my learnings from CCOP to drive climate action amongst Christians.
In the words of John Stott, former rector of my home church in London:
“It seems quite inexplicable to me that there are some Christians who claim to love and worship God, to be disciples of Jesus, and yet have no concern for the earth that bears his stamp of ownership. They do not care about the abuse of the earth, and indeed, by their wasteful and over-consumptive lifestyles, they contribute to it.”
Bringing faith leaders and the private sector together
As someone working in the private sector as an economist, I believe that we can work #TogetherForOurPlanet. Business and industry play a key role in financing climate solutions, with private finance accounting for the majority of climate finance in 2018-2019. Similarly, faith groups represent 80% of the world’s population and play a powerful role in advocating for change, as demonstrated in the leadership of Pope Francis. COP26 is an opportunity to build bridges at a time of crisis.
Business and industry are at the forefront of climate risks, as we found in the Third UK Climate Change Risk Assessment, of which I was a contributing author. Similarly, a majority of Christians today live in developing countries, and represent the communities most vulnerable to climate change. I want to understand synergies between the two groups to help enhance climate resilience.
How can you support me
COP26 is bound to be a rewarding but overwhelming experience and I would appreciate your prayers, support and encouragement.
You can follow my COP26 journey in three ways:
CCOP21 newsletter: Please fill out this form to receive daily prayer newsletters from COP26 by the CCOP21 team.
Join ongoing events: There are many ways to support COP26 events in Glasgow, but I would specifically like to invite you to join Young Christian Climate Network in celebrating our 4 month-long Relay to COP26. Join us online or in-person as we give thanks and look ahead.
Finally, thank you for your incredible support in helping me reach 125% of my crowdfunding target to attend COP26! I am so thankful for your generosity and for your encouragement in this journey.
Shilpita Mathews holds degrees from Cambridge University and the London School of Economics. She is an environmental economist and was a co-author of the Third UK Climate Change Risk Assessment.