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Published on 18 November 2021

The movement for climate justice has never been stronger

The first, and most important, thing to say is thank you for your incredible support.

You attended one or more of our fantastic events and took part in services and rallies all across Scotland calling for climate justice. You brightened up every space with pilgrimages, young voices, a flotilla of prayer boats and stirring songs. Climate-inspired art hung on every corner with Letters to Creation, Setting Sail for Climate Justice, Protest Art and Get Your Skates On.

Many of you were flushed down the muddy banks of Kelvingrove Park by a full-on November hoolie at the Global Day of Action! But you stood up to those elements for hours to have your voices heard.

Across the whole global Christian Aid family there was determination that the voices of those most affected by climate change should be heard first and foremost. We heard heart-wrenching stories of the loss and damage caused by climate change to the communities and families of inspirational people from all over the world.

Keeping hope alive

In the end, COP26 did not deliver what it had to deliver. In the face of an emergency, the world has tinkered around the edges.

But we bank the progress that was made and stand, unbowed, demanding justice.

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The Time is Now: Christian Aid Climate Justice "The Time is Now" event at Glasgow Cathedral, 09/11/2021. Credit: Colin Hattersley
Amanda Khozi Mukwashi speaking at the "The Time is Now" climate justice event in Glasgow.

Throughout COP26, people of faith have united with activists from the Global South, feminists, youth and indigenous people to demand climate justice. Our movement has never been stronger and this must be the legacy from Glasgow to keep hope alive.

- Amanda Khozi Mukwashi, CEO, Christian Aid.

Scotland had a good COP, in terms of its hospitality, its activism, and its leadership on some key issues.

Despite the mixed emotions felt at the outcome of the summit, we can take heart from the widespread view that Scotland stepped up to its daunting responsibilities in hosting something of this magnitude and importance.

One visiting delegate noted, ‘the only thing activists, businesses, officials and journalists could all agree on was the absolute awesomeness of Glasgow, the city and its people’. This warm welcome was felt by our own colleagues and partners, with whom we were lucky enough to spend the fortnight of COP. One partner, an expert on climate and gender issues who had swapped her daily Mumbai commute for the Scotrail Express from Edinburgh, enjoyed the ‘good vibes… it feels like the people here are really pleased to see us’.

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Sally Foster-Fulton at COP26 in Glasgow 2021 Credit: Amy Menzies/ Christian Aid
Sally Foster-Fulton at COP26 in Glasgow 2021

People of faith have demonstrated, walked, prayed and made boats. But this is just the beginning. We will not rest until justice is done. 

- Sally Foster-Fulton, Head of Nations and Church Relations.

The activism across Scotland became so widespread that it was almost impossible to keep track.

Campaigners from across the faith community gathered to hand in 150,000 actions at the Faith in Action for Climate Justice event. We were involved in official events in the Blue Zone, impromptu stunts, vigils, an alternative summit and daily campaign conversations. Hundreds of pilgrims, including Young Christian Climate Network, rallied in Glasgow; thousands of young people joined in the Fridays for the Future march and over 100,000 people descended on a drenched Glasgow for the Day of Action on Saturday 6 November. 

Until those who are at the centre of negotiations for a better planet are willing and able to come to the edge and hear those whose lives are in danger right now, then these negotiations will always be poorer and weaker for failing to do that.

- Martin Johnstone, COP26 Ambassador for Glasgow Churches Together .

On the issues, in Scotland we are relatively fortunate to be represented - across the political spectrum - by people who have engaged enthusiastically with those from the most climate-affected countries for several years.

At COP26, the First Minister heard directly from Christian Aid partners and colleagues from Bangladesh and the Philippines. Scotland also broke important ground on one of COP’s key sticking points, becoming the first country to announce financial support on the crucial issue of Loss and Damage – an issue on which Christian Aid will campaign in 2022. This support recognises the responsibility that richer countries bear towards those most affected for the losses and damage which climate change is causing.

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Nushrat Chowdhury greets Nicola Sturgeon with an elbow bump Credit: Christian Aid
Nushrat Chowdhury greets Nicola Sturgeon with an elbow bump

It can be hard to work on these issues, hard to get global leaders to engage. It was so refreshing to hear someone like the First Minister talking so openly about it, and I hope it can help others to follow suit.

- Nushrat Chowdhury, Christian Aid's Climate Justice Policy Advisor.

In truth, no rich country, Scotland included, is yet doing enough on climate change.

But when the overall picture is often one of stubborn inertia, we must seize on positive examples and breakthroughs, seeking to encourage an international ‘race to the top’.  That continues to be a focus of our climate change work here. With every COP that ticks past, making only limited progress, the pressure builds on the next one to deliver the seismic changes that are necessary. So with your ongoing help, we are already looking to COP27 in Egypt – and what else can be done in the meantime, both inside and outside of the UN process – in pursuit of the climate justice that the communities and people with whom we work so desperately need.