On Tuesday 28th September JCFJ held a webinar to help to demystify what goes on at COP meetings and to answer all of your COP26-related questions, which was hosted by our Climate Advocate, Dr Ciara Murphy.
Dipping a toe into anything new can be an intimidating experiencing. International meetings at the level of November’s climate summit COP26 (and its less well-known biodiversity partner COP15) are on a level most of us are not familiar with. These meetings can seem as complex and opaque as they are important to our continual survival. But we must engage with these events as their outcome is vital to the task of Caring for our Common Home.
For those of you who could not make it, you can view a recording of the webinar here
The first speaker was [an ecologist and Columban priest] Seán McDonagh who highlighted the importance of biodiversity and how it interconnects with climate change, with similar drivers in some cases. McDonagh gave us a whistle-stop tour of the science behind climate change as well as its impact. Echoing the speech made by Greta Thunberg at the Youth4Climate pre-COP26 conference he called out the lip service that governments, particularly those which are buffered from the worst impacts of climate change, pay towards this crisis. He states that we can’t be said to be acting on climate change until our emissions actually decrease. (starting at time 2:28)
Jerry Mac Evilly, Head of Policy at Friends of the Earth Ireland, spoke on a wide range of topics including why COP, and this meeting in particular, is so important. He stressed the fact that every country needs to come to the table and contribute its fair share of emissions reductions. So far the emissions reductions have been grossly insufficient which is a climate justice issue; the countries which have contributed least to the climate crisis are most impacted. (time 20:19) Mac Evilly also stated that we can use COP as a significant mobilisation moment to get people across the globe to engage in climate action and highlighted a litany of ways to get involved. (time 31:00)
Both panelists spoke about the serious and unjust impact of the unequal global distribution of Covid-19 vaccines and how this will affect who can participate in the discussions at COP26. Failure to vaccinate those most impacted by climate change compounds the existing social injustice and decreases their ability to stand their ground on the international stage.
A rich Q&A sessions explored areas such as the misalignment of economists’ expectations of viable temperature rise and climate science (37:54), the different roles population and consumption play in the climate crisis (41:24), the potential impact of Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) on the ability for governments to push climate action. Jerry also went through what a person who attends COP26 will be doing day-to-day (47:27). The difference between net-zero emissions and absolute emissions reduction were also discussed (43:13) with Seán finishing up the discussion exploring a particularly contentious in Ireland – how to transition our farming practices into more ecological and low carbon ones (57:28).
The extraordinary wisdom of Laudato Si’ was obvious throughout this webinar which not only highlighted the crisis but also pointed to solutions and hope.
Below is a list of resources that were shared during the webinar: