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Methodists engage with Climate Change ahead of COP26

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In the run-up to the City of Glasgow hosting the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (commonly abbreviated as COP26), British Methodists – among others – have been actively raising their campaigning profile to help accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement.

On Tuesday 16th February, a Methodist webinar was held entitled 'The climate emergency, COP26 and fossil fuel divestment'. The Webinar, in which there was some local participation, was held to enable Methodists to hear more about current activity and brought together representatives from several organisations. These included Operation Noah, a Christian campaign group, which aims to raise awareness of the climate crisis and equips Christians to take a stand on this vital issue. Also involved were Christian Aid and so too was the Methodist Church's own Zero Carbon Group.

Fossil fuel divestment is about establishing ethical policies that avoid investing money in financial markets related to industries such as oil, and gas. Methodist Church has been particularly active on this front over the last few years.

In October 2020, the Methodist Council passed a resolution on divestment which will result in the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church ceasing to invest in all oil and gas companies which are not currently aligned with the Paris Agreement target of a global temperature rise well below 2 degrees'. Several Methodist churches have already announced their decision to divest from fossil fuels and more will no doubt follow.

A key message from the webinar was that big business is becoming more susceptible to change because of pressure applied by churches, other faith groups, as well as the wider environmental lobby and, of course, ordinary investors.

During Lent, a local ecumenical initiative to educate, inform and encourage people in churches to think more deeply about climate change and other environmental matters was held through the online study course entitled 'Caring for Creation'.

Since then, a survey conducted by YouGov has suggested that 25% of Britons are unwilling to change key habits to tackle climate change. When asked about how climate change affects people's lives in the UK, 69% of those polled said they did not feel personally impacted.

The Methodist Church, along with other agencies, are hoping to change the messaging on climate change to help people realise the benefits that tackling climate change would have on their lives. Over the coming months, we hope that discussions in small groups and contextual Sunday services may help us all to realise the impact we can all have on climate change by taking seriously the call from God to be good stewards of our planet.

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