Presiding Episcopal delegation resumes in-person engagement on climate issues at COP27 in Egypt – Episcopal News Service
[Episcopal News Service] For a second year, the Annual United Nations Climate Conference has an online participation option, which allowed Presiding Bishop Michael Curry to appoint a larger delegation to represent him at the world summit, and this month, for the first time in three years, some Episcopalians started again to attend in person.
The 18-member Episcopal delegation is now engaged in a mix of online meetings and face-to-face conversations on the sidelines of the COP27 summit running November 6-18 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. California Bishop Marc Andrus leads the Episcopal delegation alongside Lynnaia Main, the Episcopal Church’s representative to the United Nations, with additional support from the Church’s offices for Creation Protection and Government Relations. Andrus and Main are among six Episcopalians at COP27 in Egypt this week, and they meet online with the entire delegation at the end of each day for a group update.
“I’m so impressed every day with what they’re learning and how they absorb it and how they analyze it,” Andrus told Episcopal News Service by phone Nov. 10 from Egypt. Andrus, who retires as a diocesan bishop in 2024, added that the delegates, from Episcopal Church dioceses, are already showing true “sophistication and dedication” in promoting the policies supported by the resolutions. of the General Convention.
COP27 is officially known as the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. An Episcopal delegation first attended the summit in 2015, and since 2016 the Episcopal Church has held UN observer status, which allows members of the Episcopal delegation to brief representatives of the UN General Convention climate resolutions and attend meetings in the official area.
“This is a pivotal time when world leaders take the witness of the American religious community seriously,” said Reverend Melanie Mullen, director of reconciliation, justice and creation care for the Episcopal Church, said in a church press release ahead of COP27. “We seek to lead the way in demanding a moral approach to tackling climate change and insisting that the communities most affected by climate change will not be left behind.”
In addition to Andrus, Main and Mullen, those attending in person this week include Aisha Huertas from the Diocese of Virginia, John Kydd from the Diocese of Olympia and Paloma Pavel from the Diocese of California. Some of them will return home after the first week, allowing others to travel to Egypt for the second week of COP27.
A central objective of every COP since 2015 has been to track the implementation of that year’s landmark Paris Agreement, in which nearly 200 countries set voluntary targets to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, with a target of 1.5 degrees. At the time, the goal was to mitigate the catastrophic effects of warming Earth surface temperatures, which are causing glaciers to melt; sea level rise; and more frequent and extreme hurricanes, droughts, snowstorms and wildfires. Since then, climatologists have warned that the threat of climate change to humanity is at ‘code red’, as warming approaches the 1.5 degree threshold.
The United States was once the largest producer of greenhouse gases. It now ranks second in the world behind China. In 2009, the United States, China and other developed countries pledged to increase financial support for developing countries’ efforts to combat climate change. So far, they have not met their goal of providing $100 billion a year.
The central theme of COP27 is “loss and damage”, which highlights the questions of how to respond to – and possibly compensate for – the people and communities whose lives have been disrupted by climate change.
“Loss and damage can no longer be swept under the rug. It is a moral imperative,” UN Secretary General António Guterres said on November 7. in his opening speech at COP27. “Those who have contributed least to the climate crisis are reaping the storm sown by others. Many are caught off guard by impacts for which they had no warning or means of preparation.
During Curry’s rule, the three main priorities of the Episcopal Church were racial reconciliation, evangelism, and creation care. The general agreement is passed many resolutions on the issue, whether it’s supporting federal climate action or pledging to lessen the church’s impact on the environment. Through its Washington DC-based government relations office and the Episcopal Public Policy Networkthe church has advocated for government policies consistent with the positions of the General Convention on Climate Change.
In his last action, the 80e General convention approved a resolution in July reaffirming the church’s support for delegates to attend the climate conference and its engagement with member countries on ways to address climate change and seek environmental justice.
The General Convention has yet to take a position on financial remedies for loss and damage, Andrus said, but the Episcopal Church has offered unequivocal support to those suffering from the effects of global warming, intensifying weather systems and sea level rise.
“There has been a looming and growing debate at climate summits about the world’s responsibility to communities that face frontline loss and damage,” Andrus said. The church continues to show “solidarity with vulnerable populations”.
This year’s conference also comes after the church’s House of Bishops in July endorsed a “spirit of the house” statementadvocated by Andrus, emphasizing that climate change is an underlying factor in many of the challenges facing societies around the world.
“As people of faith, we are not without hope, but the sustainability of God’s creation demands our action,” the bishops said. “Addressing climate change and environmental degradation has never been more urgent. As members of The Episcopal Church, we commit ourselves through baptism to resist evil, to seek the will of God, to treat all people with dignity, and to strive for justice and peace. By living in these promises, we must face the climate crisis in the name of the love of God and neighbor.
The Episcopal delegation to COP27 has drafted a letter which it forwards to member states at the summit. The issues raised include the need to accelerate global efforts to reduce emissions while protecting the human rights of those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
In-person delegates also schedule meetings with world leaders when possible. On November 10, Andrus was joined by Anglican Archbishop Samy Fazwy of the province of Alexandria in Egypt and Archbishop Julio Murray of the Anglican Church of Central America for a meeting with Ugandan Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja.
“We wanted to know what her priorities were, and she talked about tree planting and water quality,” Andrus said. “We had things to say about it.” The Episcopal Church has been a strong advocate for water quality issues, he said, while in early August Anglican bishops from across the Anglican community took part in the Dedication of the Communion Forest initiative in London, England, at the Episcopal Conference of Lambeth.
Members of the Episcopal delegation will report to the church on their experiences at COP27 in an online session at noon on November 30 Eastern. Anyone interested in attending is invited to register in advance.
– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at [email protected].