COP26 is into its second week in Glasgow and one thing is for sure – faith communities have a massive presence here. People from all faiths have descended in an effort to raise their voices for our common home, and for the most vulnerable people in our world.
I’ve been attending many fringe events across the city over the past week which have highlighted to me the largest ever attendance of faith groups at a COP event.
For example 150,000 actions from various faith-based organisations were presented to the UN COP Presidency at St. George Tron Church in the heart of the city on Tuesday Nov 2nd. This “Faiths in Action Event” included the handover of the Healthy Planet, Healthy People petition, which Trócaire has partnered with, and which 120,000 people globally have signed over the past 6 months. Participants were reminded: “We need to act as if we believed that God created the world”.
Vigils are taking place every day outside the COP26 venue as people of various faith groups sit in silent contemplation, praying for the success of these critical climate negotiations. Hundreds of climate pilgrims have walked from various points across the UK and Europe to Glasgow.
On Saturday November 6th one of the largest climate marches in history took place here in terrible weather conditions. Torrential rain and gale force winds didn’t deter 125,000 people taking to the streets to raise their voices for climate justice.
At St. Aloysius Church we gathered with members of the Laudato Si’ Movement, Columban Missionaries, Justice and Peace Scotland and many pilgrims to walk together behind the #LiveLaudatoSi globe to the Faith Bloc meeting point in Kelvingrove Park. We sang Laudato Si’ o mi signore as we guided our battered world through the streets of Glasgow.
Thousands of people convened in the Faith Bloc carrying signs which read “Make this a fair COP”; “Love your global neighbour”; “Act justly, Love Tenderly and Walk Humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). Spirits were high despite the rough conditions. We kept one another going, singing and chanting as we moved through the streets.
The determination of the participants at Saturday’s march is a sure sign of hope. Grassroots communities are responding to the warnings issued by the IPCC report last August and which flagged that climate change is a “code red for humanity”.