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COP26 wrap-up and what’s next for our climate change work

We look ahead to 2022 as another year for climate justice. SCIAF Advocacy Manager Geraldine Hill reflects on the COP26 and what lies ahead. 

The world’s leaders and delegates from across the globe have come and gone from Glasgow. At SCIAF, we work tirelessly to address some of the world’s injustices. That’s why we are so invested in helping those suffering the worst effects climate change and will continue to do so this year.

As Catholics our faith inspires us to continue on this journey and the fight for climate justice, making every effort to ensure that the solutions benefit the poorest who need it most.

COP26 was a unique opportunity for SCIAF. Our goals were to campaign for policy change, educate and inspire action while the important conference was on our doorstep. We brought some of our international partners to Scotland to take part in the conference and speak directly to decisionmakers. Ten of partners who help deliver SCIAF’s projects in Malawi, Zambia and Colombia not only attended the conference and met with decisionmakers, but met with school children and pupils. We are very grateful for their support.

There is no doubt that the worst effects of climate change are being felt now by people in the poorest countries who have done little or nothing to cause this crisis. SCIAF’s partners shared how their communities are suffering from floods, droughts and subsequent food insecurity.

In the months leading up to COP26, we developed a series of education resources for teachers of primary and secondary schools. This included Climate Justice reflections, games and activities. These were brought to life with visits from our partners to schools.

The Global Day of Action March saw tens of thousands of people come together in Glasgow and with SCIAF’s support, a number of schools across Scotland were represented. We thank everyone who got involved.

The final outcome of the conference was a mixed bag. Some progress was made in key areas, but much more needs to be done. A good development of COP was the spotlight on climate finance, with the Scottish Government championing climate finance for poor countries who are unable to adapt to the changing climate. Yet, despite all the commitments made, we are still not on track to 1.5 warming, and it is not clear how countries will manage to reach the commitments to reach net zero emissions they have already made.

And while the richest countries have a long-standing commitment to provide $100bn per year to developing countries to help them reduce their own emissions and adapt to the changing climate, COP still didn’t deliver this.

COP26 may be over, but SCIAF’s work continues. Here in Scotland, we will continue campaigning for change and educating young people. And across the world, we will continue supporting communities in the face of the Climate Emergency.

A recent poll found that climate change is now top in the list of concerns for the British public. In large part this is due to the work of civil society and global movements, and especially young people, in raising awareness and increasing levels of scrutiny. COP26 didn’t stop climate change; but it was never going to. There won’t be one moment when we avert climate catastrophe, but we will progress by taking many small steps together.