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Find out what the G7 and COP are, and why 2021 is a critical year for climate action.
Kiran Rai | 24 Mar 2021
The decisions made by governments and world leaders this year will have a huge bearing on what the world will look like post-coronavirus. While global attention has (rightly) been focused on responding to the pandemic, the climate crisis is now more urgent than ever. We are still on course for catastrophic global temperature rises that will put millions of lives, the global economy and our whole world at risk. We need governments, businesses and communities to take this emergency seriously and act with urgency.
This year, the UK will host two major world summits that have the potential to be significant moments in the fight against climate change: the G7 and COP26.
What is the G7?
The G7, or the ‘Group of Seven’, is made up of the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the USA. Often when people refer to ‘the G7’, they are talking about the annual G7 summit – the gathering where leaders of these nations and representatives of the EU meet to discuss how they will tackle big global issues.
In 2021, the G7 summit will be held in Cornwall from 11 to 13 June. As host nation, the UK will have an important role in influencing the discussions around how we rebuild and recover from the pandemic.
What is COP26?
COP stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’, and it’s the United Nations’ annual summit on climate change. Governments of practically every country in the world come together to make plans for tackling the climate crisis.
This year is the 26th COP climate summit, so it’s referred to as COP26. It will be held in Glasgow from 1 to 12 November. It’s a critical moment when countries must set ambitious goals, commit to bold climate action, and stay accountable.
COP26 is particularly significant because it’s the first time countries are obliged to lay out concrete plans for reaching the targets they set five years ago in the Paris Agreement. You can learn more about what’s happened during those five years in our December blog.
Will these events actually change anything?
Yes. These are two major world events where big, impactful decisions will be made about the future of our climate. It can be easy to become cynical or disillusioned when looking at previous summits that fell short of the mark, but each of these events is a significant moment that could help us change course towards a fairer, greener future.
As more people around the world recognise the urgency of the climate crisis, more pressure than ever before is being placed on governments to take meaningful action. With the G7 and COP26 taking place on UK soil in 2021, Christians in the UK have a unique opportunity to call on world leaders to play their part.
Why should Christians care?
We’re already experiencing the effects of the climate crisis – but people living in poverty are being hit first and worst. And we’re on course for global temperature rises that will put millions of lives at risk. Already, more people are going hungry, extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and severe, and communities are being displaced.
The climate crisis is a justice issue. As Christian climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe said in our climate film series for small groups, 'Climate change is not only an environmental issue. Climate change is a poverty issue. It’s a hunger issue. It’s an issue of inequality and injustice. It’s a human issue. And that’s why we care.'
What is Tearfund doing – and what can I do?
Soon after the start of the pandemic, we launched the Reboot campaign to call on the UK Government to play their part in building a better world post-coronavirus. Late last year, we moved into a new phase of the campaign, focusing on the climate crisis. More than 11,000 Tearfund supporters have signed The Climate Coalition’s declaration for a greener, fairer recovery – joining more than 100,000 others. If you haven’t done so yet, you can still add your voice.
We’ve also created a range of tools to help you continue your climate action journey with your church or small group – our latest being a virtual escape room adventure! Whether you’re a climate expert or all of this is new to you, you’ll find something to help you on our resources page.
In the lead-up to the G7 and COP, we will have new ways that you can take action and pray for those events. Every voice really does count – so we’re praying that you’ll join us in raising our voices together for those living in poverty.
How can I pray?
Prayer is crucial if we’re to see a breakthrough in the climate emergency. As we contemplate the scale of the crisis, it’s important that we keep our eyes fixed on the God of justice who loves creation and brings restoration and peace. And we need to help our friends and family do the same.
Please visit our ‘Prayer for the climate’ page for details on how you can sign up to receive regular prayer points directly to your phone. As we approach the G7 and COP, we’ll be updating this page with new events and prayer resources, so do keep an eye on it.
Pray for those who are most vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis, for protection and safety.
Pray for world leaders to take ambitious climate action at the G7 and COP26, coming together with a collaborative spirit and with courage.
Pray that Christians across the UK will speak up and play their part in influencing climate decisions this year.