Quakers gather for COP26 climate march

‘Climate pledges agreed so far at COP could keep the world’s rising temperatures to within 1.8C of pre-industrialised levels – but only if the commitments are implemented in full.’

'Quakers were among the estimated 100,000 who took part.' | Photo: by Michael Preston, BYM

Hundreds of Quakers marked the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice this week, with significant marches in Glasgow, London, Leeds and Manchester.

Friends joined the Quaker bloc in the London march for the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice on 6 November.

Friends from Ealing, Brentford and Isleworth, Norwich, Esher, Street and Chelmsford Meetings joined the London march on 6 November. Meanwhile Huddersfield Quakers said there was a ‘good turnout’ in Leeds, with Friend Ann Bettys, who attended the gathering, tweeting on the day: ‘Climate pledges agreed so far at COP could keep the world’s rising temperatures to within 1.8C of pre-industrialised levels – but only if the commitments are implemented in full.’

Glasgow was also ‘totally abuzz’, Alastair McIntosh, from Glasgow Meeting, told the Friend, where Quakers were among the estimated 100,000 who took part. Others joined the World Climate March online or took part in actions around the UK. Many Quaker Meetings held local events on Saturday, including Buxton, Leeds and Huddersfield, Cardiff, Sheffield, St Albans, London, Dorchester, and more in Scotland.

The day came halfway through two weeks of climate change negotiations at COP26 where a small Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM) team raised the issues of loss and damage, and amplified the voices of marginalised communities bearing the brunt of the crisis.

Paul Parker, recording clerk for BYM, started the summit as a panellist at the Glasgow Informal Interfaith Gathering in the Spirit of Talanoa Dialogue. The dialogue is a Fijian tradition where communities solve problems by coming together in the spirit of equality. Paul Parker spoke about hope and the risks of hopelessness.

‘We are still seeing a real mismatch between the grand language of public statements the government is making and the detail of policy, So at the same time as pressurising other countries to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, we are seeing new oil fields, [and] new coalmines opening in the UK,’ he said in What are Quakers doing at COP26?, a video posted on YouTube on 2 November.

BYM recorded its reflections on the summit’s progress via the Quakers in Britain Twitterfeed. Olivia Hanks, Grace de Costa and Paul Parker from BYM all reiterated that financing loss and damage was crucial in tackling the crisis. This requires identifying the process to establish the level of need, and supporting developing countries to make sure they have the systems in place so ‘the money can go to where it needs to go’.

As Quakers held witness outside the summit, many attended Woodbrooke’s two online Meetings for Worship on 4 and 9 November to uphold those taking part, and ‘the many millions who will be affected by the decisions made’.

Other Meetings played the video of Quakers in Britain’s statement to COP26 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fknSSspYuqE) after Meeting for Worship.

You need to login to read subscriber-only content and/or comment on articles.