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COP21 pilgrims

November 2015: In the Saint Merry church in Paris, climate pilgrims from across the world, many of them representing WCC member churches, met just before the COP21 UN climate talks.

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The Paris Agreement, forged on 12 December 2015, aimed to strengthen global response to the threat of climate change. While commemorating that landmark agreement, Sauca expressed that the next climate change conference (COP26)  will be pivotal for reaching the Paris goal of keeping the global average temperature increase well under 2 degrees Celsius. COP26, has been postponed to November 2021.

“The outcomes of COP 26 should firmly establish the Paris Agreement as an important global lever to bring down greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change and generate critical support for income-poor and vulnerable countries, enabling them to mitigate, adapt and build resilience as well as compensating for destructive climate impacts,” said Sauca.

Projected to the third warmest year on record after 2016 and 2019, 2020 brought destructive storms, droughts and wildfires. National commitments to cut emissions still fall drastically short of what the Paris Agreement and scientific findings demand.

The cost of renewable energy has never been lower. The US election results pave the way for the US to return to and play a more constructive role in the Paris Agreement.

“Clearly resources and capacities to respond to a global emergency abound,” he said. “If humanity could only come together in a spirit of solidarity, we may have more than a fighting chance of carving out a decent future for coming generations.”

As we look back on the Paris Agreement, and consider the future, what is the task of our communities of faith?

“Ours is the task of motivating, emboldening, pressing for and cultivating deep-seated and necessary transformations in behaviours and lifestyles as well as in financial and economic systems to meet the paramount existential challenge of our time,” said Sauca. “Our faith demands that we situate the marginalised in the very centre of our work; act for the common good; restore the entire web of creation; and care for the precious gift of life.”

WCC executive committee Statement on UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris, December 2015

UN climate chief thanks pilgrims for “every single step” to climate justice - WCC news release (30 November 2015)

COP21: “A moment of truth” - WCC news release (1 December 2015)

Paris climate agreement hailed by ecumenical leaders - WCC news release (14 December 2015)

WCC statement on climate justice (November 2016)

WCC Statement on the Climate Change Emergency (25 November 2019)

WCC general secretary pastoral letter on climate emergency (19 December 2019)

Learn more about the WCC work on Care for Creation and Climate Justice