Seeking climate justice at COP27

COP27 has begun in Egypt this week. This signals the start of more climate negotiations hoping to unite and protect the future of this planet. COP, Conference of the Parties, is the United Nations’ annual summit. Almost all national governments attend to coordinate a global response to climate change. In November 2021, the UK hosted the 26th annual talk in Glasgow – known as COP26. The baton passed to Egypt this year. 

Progress – but not justice – at COP26

Last year, climate negotiations saw significant positive outcomes. Almost 40 nations and institutions committed to end overseas public finance for coal, oil and gas. This could shift $28 billion out of fossil fuels and into clean energy. 

Beyond the formal meetings, we saw a growing groundswell of public support for action.  More people than ever before – including Christians and churches – spoke up for climate justice, playing their part by campaigning, praying and joining marches. 

But, despite these positive steps, COP26 fell short of justice for the most vulnerable – particularly in the area of climate finance.

Climate finance and why it matters

‘Climate finance’ is funding for actions that stop the crisis from getting worse (known as ‘mitigation’) and help countries to adapt to its impacts (‘adaptation’). Finance is also needed to pay for the unavoidable ‘loss and damage’ experienced by those whose homes, livelihoods and even lives are being lost as a result of the climate crisis.

It matters because – although the climate crisis is a global problem – its effects are felt most severely by the global majority: those who did the least to contribute to climate change.

Yet despite the calls of climate-vulnerable nations for this to be addressed, at COP26 wealthy countries failed on two counts. They didn’t agree concrete action to meet existing commitments – including a pledge made in 2009 to provide $100 billion a year from 2020 – and they didn’t commit anywhere near the level of new support needed.

The People's Plenary session at COP26

Assembly of all COP26 participants in Glasgow last year. Image: UNFCCC

In the spotlight at COP27

COP27 has been coined the ‘African COP’. Hosted in Egypt, it must reflect the voices and priorities of African nations and other climate-vulnerable countries. They have been increasingly clear in their calls for higher-income nations (those most responsible for climate change) to deliver on their promises and increase their support for climate action in low-income countries.

The world has changed in the months since COP26. Many wealthier countries are feeling the effects of the energy crisis, and may be more hesitant to increase climate funding. But climate impacts continue to accelerate, from prolonged drought in East Africa to unprecedented flooding in Pakistan.

What is Tearfund doing?

Promise Salawu, Advocacy Officer at Tearfund Nigeria, explains the importance of climate finance for vulnerable nations: ‘without financial help, it will be impossible for many families and communities to adapt to and survive the impacts of the climate crisis.

We must see progress on this vital issue at COP27. That’s why – through our Time to Deliver campaign – we are calling on the UK Government to ensure that wealthier nations fulfil their 2009 pledge to deliver $100 billion a year from 2020 in climate finance to lower-income countries and communities. This could make a huge difference to vulnerable communities’ ability to protect themselves.

At COP27, the Tearfund team will be:

  • Lobbying UK negotiators on climate finance and other key issues affecting our global neighbours
  • Supporting partners in meetings with their national delegations
  • Seeking opportunities to highlight the issues in the media 
  • Looking for creative ways to draw attention
  • Calling our communities to pray (that’s you!)

Take action now

You can get involved by joining with thousands of others in signing our Time to Deliver petition if you haven’t already. 

Please also join us in praying for:

  • leaders of high-income countries to turn words into actions
  • leaders to be held account for keeping the agreed 1.5°C warming within reach
  • wealthier countries to deliver their promised climate finance and make new commitments
  • for this money to reach the communities that need it most
  • climate-impacted African communities to be heard and effective in influencing change.

Climate justice won’t be achieved at a single conference, but COP27 has the potential to take us closer to a safer, fairer world. So let’s continue to play our part. Let’s hold our leaders to account for playing theirs and keep our eyes fixed on God.

This article was originally published on

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