Solutions are still possible – taking hope to COP27

Chris Walley, a Board Member of A Rocha France and one of thousands of delegates and campaigners from around the world attending the COP27 climate talks which began in Egypt at the weekend. Here he shares his thoughts and fears and urges us to pray. 

In a world full of immediate crises, COP27 may struggle to grab our attention. Certainly, as events, COPs leave much to be desired. I attended COP 21 in 2018 with the Christian conservation organisation A Rocha and I'm well aware of the flurry of press releases, speeches and statements they bring.

Yet COP27 is vital. It comes with a new, if troubling, confidence in our scientific understanding of climate. It's not now easy to be sceptical of the predictions of climate science except from the standpoint of wilful ignorance. (An essential antidote here is Saving Us: A Climate Scientist's Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World by Katharine Hayhoe: a charming Christian with impressive scientific credentials.) Indeed, if the predictions have erred, it is in not being pessimistic enough. From the perspective of much of Europe, the long baking summer of 2022 looks uncomfortably close to that predicted for 2035.

COP27 also comes with a new awareness of the seriousness of climate change. Not just a rise of temperature but profound, complex and unpredictable events: tempests, droughts, fires and coastal erosion. Even the wealthiest countries are going to struggle with the likely impacts and the plight of the poorer countries is troubling to imagine.

As Christians we should be particularly concerned for the success of COP27. We believe we are entrusted with the stewardship of this world by a God to whom we are ultimately answerable. Yet amid our fears, we should also engage that precious Christian virtue of hope. Even at this late stage, solutions are possible: cuts in emissions, sequestration of greenhouse gases artificially, or by new woodlands and wetlands. What we can be sure is that such measures will come at a cost, to both people and nations. Yet it is surely right that this generation pays a small price to ensure that future generations do not pay a far higher one. Not to do so is to steal from those who will come after us. Let's pray for the success of COP27: not just in its resolutions but in its actions.