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For faith groups, progress on loss and damage is essential at the Glasgow climate summit

3 min read

“The Earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it.” Psalm 24:1. What relevance might an ancient Hebrew poem, written millennia ago, have to the climate crisis?

My way of looking at it is this: I don’t wreck the things that belong to the people I love. If the creation is the Lord’s then I should no more trash it than I would the work of a much loved friend. 
Those least responsible for global warming already bear the brunt of the climate crisis, particularly in the global south. My own faith in the life and teachings of Jesus moves me to campaign not only for climate action, but also for climate justice, which acknowledges and responds to the needs of the most vulnerable. 

I claim no unique perspective for my own faith on this. Most faith communities share the values of compassion and solidarity. If I seek to find the image of God in everyone I meet, then I must accept that their needs and desires are worth equal respect to my own. I must accept that they are equally worthy of compassion and dignity. That means I must find a way to accommodate their needs and desires so that we can live together in peace. 

Politicians call that accommodation justice and climate justice must be at the heart of COP26. Leaders in November must act in solidarity, not in competition with each other if Glasgow is to help us resolve the environmental chaos that presses closer.

There are some impacts of climate change that are already here and that cannot be reversed

Solidarity must extend beyond saying that we will no longer support fossil fuel projects overseas through our government Export Credit Financing Facility. We must insist on sustainability from our banks and financial institutions so they stop driving deforestation by bankrolling the soy and beef industries that are consuming virgin rainforest and undermining the human rights of indigenous forest dwelling communities.  G7 investment  between January 2020 and March 2021 committed $189bn  (£137bn) for fossil fuels compared to £107bn on renewables. This is unsustainable.

For many years some of us have been highlighting the need for the politicians not only to talk of mitigation, adaptation and finance. But to understand that there are some impacts of climate change that are already here and that cannot be reversed or adapted to. We have urged the negotiators to consider the issue of loss and damage (L&D) from climate change.

Seeking climate justice will mean addressing L&D and supporting vulnerable communities who are facing the worst impacts of climate change. This support must go beyond words, extending to new and additional finance from the global north to pay for climate damages in vulnerable countries.
Addressing L&D will require that we act in solidarity, not competition, with the global community. 
Past COPs have often been marked by division and dispute. A continued lack of progress could undermine trust in the negotiations altogether. Solidarity with those most affected by climate change will be an essential part of rebuilding trust.

In the run-up to COP26, the multi-faith Make COP Count Coalition (chaired by Faith for the Climate), is calling for greater action to tackle loss and damage (L&D) from climate change. 
At the recent interfaith parliamentary briefing on COP26, faith groups and parliamentarians committed to working together on this issue. 

Using our shared values, networks and expertise, we can and will build a political consensus for action on loss and damage.

Barry Gardiner is Labour MP for Brent North

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