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Ordinary Christians, extraordinary times

COP26 – Glasgow 2021

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

COP26 takes place in Glasgow from 1-12 November. World leaders are coming together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement. Because of the lack of action since 2015 we now need a miracle to stay below 1.5 degrees. In this talk at our online Festival last Autumn Bishop James described our actions as ‘earthing hell’.

“The world’s leaders now recognize that to protect future prosperity and well-being we must limit global warming to an average of 1.5 degrees Celsius. This requires not incremental change, but radical change—roughly a halving of carbon emissions each decade through 2050.” The World Resources Institute


We are going to present a number of articles by notable people over the next few months about COP26.  Here is the first by Bishop James Jones.

Green Christian Patron, Bishop James Jones, writes:

“Let the Earth flourish”

Glasgow’s Patron Saint and founder St Mungo is remembered by a verse that recalls four of his miracles:

“HERE IS THE BIRD THAT NEVER FLEW

HERE IS THE TREE THAT NEVER GREW

HERE IS THE BELL THAT NEVER RANG

HERE IS THE FISH THAT NEVER SWAM”.

These words are both historic and possibly prophetic. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the future of the birds, the trees, the fish and all humanity will be determined by the decisions taken in Glasgow this year.

St Mungo prayed, “Lord, let Glasgow flourish” which became the City’s motto. Glasgow and every other community can flourish only if the whole earth flourishes. So our plea for this global conference should be “Let the earth flourish”.

We are all part of the future’s history. It’s worth asking what will be needed by COP26 if it is to go down in history as earth-saving. Taking MUNGO as a mnemonic:

M is for MAGNANIMITY. We can progress only by putting ourselves in the shoes of others especially those already feeling the disastrous effects of climate change.

U is for UNIVERSAL. Although delegates rightly represent their own national interest everyone needs to see themselves as universal ambassadors and champions of the Earth.

N is for NATURE. We are part of nature, not apart from it. There is no future for anyone if the result of COP26 is bad for nature.

G is for GREEN. All our decisions – personal, purchasing and political – have to be greener for a healthier world.

O is for ONLY. We have only the one planet to inhabit and to nurture us. In this Anthropocene era it is up to each and everyone of us to live within nature’s means, for the earth is not a limitless larder.

Let the birds fly, let the trees grow, let the fish swim and let not the bell toll, for the Earth is our only home.

The Right Reverend James Jones KBE

Bishop of Liverpool (1998-2013)

Author of Jesus and the Earth (SPCK, 2003), and Justice for Christ’s Sake (SPCK, Sept 2021).

See Bishop James’ talk at our online Festival last Autumn.

One of the most effective things we can do about COP26 is to encourage our government to demonstrate genuine climate leadership in its own laws and policies. And the best way to do that is to support the CEE Bill.