COP26 Climate Talks Open in Scotland
As world leaders gather for COP26 in Glasgow, representatives of faith and spiritual groups step up to speak for the unheard.
“What can people of faith offer the world now? In this sacred place, we are here to remind people of what is sacred – life, nature, all creatures” – Sister Jayanti
As world leaders gather for climate talks - COP26 - in Glasgow, there is a growing sense that this is make or break for the future of the 2015 Paris Agreement – and for life on earth as we know it.
Along with politicians and negotiators, thousands of people from civil society, including the world’s major religions and spiritual traditions, are also present. Many more are following proceedings online.
Their purpose is to urge drastic action to confront the climate emergency, speaking up on behalf of the world’s most vulnerable, calling for adequate finance to assist poorer countries, and greater justice in how the burden of climate change is borne.
Speaking at the Interfaith Prayer and Meditation Vigil, and launch of Scottish Interfaith Week, in George Square on Sunday, Sister Jayanti noted that the critical situation demands we make practical changes to our lifestyle now.
We must choose to make a contribution to keeping the temperature rise to within the parameters envisaged by the Paris Agreement (1.5C if possible and certainly not more than 2C). Drawing on our innermost resources, and spiritual power, we can do this – for the sake of humanity, the planet and all life on earth.
Young people raise their voices
While speakers at the Vigil, and the world’s leaders, have expressed grave concern for future generations, young people taking part in a Talanoa Dialogue, Sunday evening, called for greater involvement in climate talks.
They expressed frustration that their voices are not heard, and they have little impact on proceedings.
The Dialogue was organized by the Brahma Kumaris and the Lutheran World Federation and held at Garnet Hill Synagogue. It was a chance to debate the issues and exchange ideas in a respectful and open manner, based on traditional gatherings among Pacific Islanders. Moderated by Valeriane Bernard and Rev. Henrik Grape, it brought together faith leaders, representatives of indigenous peoples, and members of the public.
In an online break-out session, with as many young people from Africa as from elsewhere in the world, participants identified uneven access to the internet, lack of financial resources, and an absence of mentors and opportunities for training, as major obstacles to their representation at climate talks.
The evening culminated in an interfaith service in the Synagogue, in which SisterJjayanti spoke of her deep appreciation of the sacredness of the setting, and urged her audience to keep a sense of wonder and sacredness towards the planet.
“What can people of faith offer the world now?” she asked, “In this sacred place, we are here to remind people of what is sacred: Life, nature, all creatures.”