A statement of solidarity with communities most vulnerable to climate change
Anglicans came to COP28 with three main calls to climate action, which were shared in the COP28 Faith Pavilion and with leaders of countries in private meetings. Over the two weeks, the world’s nations have negotiated and made decisions on all three. Here we respond to COP28’s outcomes, standing in solidarity with those wrestling through the complexities of hope and disappointment:
Commitment at COP28 to phasing-out fossil fuels, fastest in the highest polluting countries, ensuring dialogue with affected sectors and overcoming barriers to transitions in emerging markets.
For the first time the world’s nations have committed to a transition away from fossil fuels in a just, orderly and equitable manner. This is highly welcome. However, COP28 stops short of committing to phase fossil fuels out, and looks to the newly established UAE Just Transition Work Programme for concrete action. While this decision is low in ambition, we recognise that it offers hope in different pathways for energy transition based on different countries’ circumstances. This aligns with calls from developing economies which need transitional fuels to meet the huge gap in their energy access and security. Our brothers and sisters across the continent of Africa, for example, point out that their ability to transition away from fossil fuels requires improved access to finance for alternative energy sources – energy which is essential for them to scale up healthcare, employment, education, agriculture and more. While this transition is underway, we affirm Anglican efforts across the world to reduce excess consumption and reach net zero - to honour God in caring for their neighbours and creation.
Double funding for adaptation, working strategically with faith groups already in vulnerable communities and making sure women, youth and indigenous are at the table.
We are saddened that key texts (the Global Goal on Adaptation and the Global Stock Take) offer much weaker commitments to supporting the most vulnerable in adapting to the impact of climate change than we had called for. For example, in the Global Goal on Adaptation: ‘developed parties are encouraged to at least double adaptation finance flows’. This does little to build confidence in action and makes it difficult for states to plan based on predictable financing. However, the COP28 UAE Climate Relief Recovery and Peace Declaration has seen some countries commit to resilience building for communities in areas of active conflict. There is a welcome focus on ensuring finance flows to these areas and to making connections between climate change and intensification of conflict. We also affirm the declarations in COP28’s Gender Responsive Just Transitions and Climate Action Partnership, which note the disproportionate impact of climate change on women, particularly indigenous women and women in rural areas, and seeks stronger dialogue to ensure they are included in decision-making processes. We re-emphasise the Anglican Communion’s commitment to working with the UN and local church communities to implement these declarations.
We also commit to advocating for more ambitious contributions to adaptation from governments, businesses and investors. Adaptation is a priority for countries most vulnerable to climate shocks including for many Anglican communities across Africa and the Pacific. They have already lost lives, homes, livelihoods and ancestral ties in floods, droughts and rising sea levels. Much of their development budgets are going to adaptation. Harmful emissions (rarely from the communities suffering) will make the impact of these climate shocks worse in the coming years.
Countries that have done little to cause climate change should not have to pay for the damage it causes or the changes we need to limit it. This requires immediate action (payment into the loss & damage fund agreed at COP27) and long-term change (reforming financial systems driving debt and inequality).
We celebrate that pledges have been made to the loss & damage fund from some countries historically responsible for climate change. Much greater sums will be needed to respond adequately to the impact of climate change, but this is a hopeful start. Longer-term reform to the world’s financial systems, to lessen the burden of debt and reduce inequality, also featured in many COP28 debates. However, in the final texts, financial commitments are largely optional. It seems that developed countries may be reluctant to make firm commitments after falling short of providing the $100 billion annually they committed in 2009 negotiations in Copenhagen. Much of the finance offered is also in the form of loans not grants, which has the potential to drive countries further into debt. We affirm the work of ethical investors, including Church pensions funds and schemes from Governments including the Seychelles, in pioneering new ways of ensuring finance flows to those most in need, but more is required at scale from developed countries and financial systems to restore trust and reduce inequality. This is an issue of justice that we will continue to pray into and advocate for.
We are grateful for the immense work that has gone into COP28 from many who labour for good outcomes and faithfully remain true to their convictions from God, inside and outside the negotiating rooms. We stand in solidarity with many young people who are anxious about the impact of climate change on their futures, and we act in faith, knowing that God is with us through the complexities and in suffering - a God of hope and justice, who loved this world enough to give his only son for us (John 3:16) and whose love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).
We now look ahead to COP29 in Azerbaijan and COP30 in Brazil. Advocacy in our own contexts in between the COPs can have the most impact on negotiations. Join us in calling for climate action in your churches and governments. Visit https://www.anglicancommunion.org/mission/at-the-un/anglicans-at-cop28.aspx for more information.