Paris Agreement on Climate Change: What did we get and where do we go next?

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Tearfund’s Advocacy Director Paul Cook reflects on the outcomes of the Paris Agreement reached today.

On Saturday 12 December 2015 for the first time in history all the nations of the world signed up to play their part in the Paris Agreement . A global deal to tackle climate change.  But is it a good deal or a bad deal?  In particular is it a good deal for the millions of people living in poor communities across Africa, Asia and Latin America who are the most vulnerable to climate change and have done the least to cause it? [Read more…]

Getting a Paris climate deal that works for the poorest

Ramesh at COP 21
Ramesh Babu works in partnership with Tearfund in India and is currently at the UN climate change talks in Paris. He has one question on his mind: How do we get an agreement that works for the very poorest people in the world?

There are over 30,000 people charging around the organised chaos that is the negotiating rooms of Le Bourget in Paris all trying to close a global climate deal in the next few hours. I have come with one question in mind: how do we get an agreement here in Paris that works for the very poorest people in the world? Earlier this week I heard from Christiana Figueres, head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), who has the unenviable task of pulling all of this together into a deal by the weekend. She said we need an agreement which “meets national and local needs, keeps scientific integrity, and promotes prosperity for all”.  It is her words “for all” that resonate most strongly with me. [Read more…]

We are all here together

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Sarah Wiggins offers some reflections from Paris through the eyes of people she has spent the past week with.

‘If there is a silver lining, beautiful in this situation, it is that we are all being required to acknowledge that we are all here, we exist together.’ John Mark McMillan, Paris, December 2015

The climate talks at COP21 in Paris is a vibrant place to be. World leaders are here – people like President Hollande can be glimpsed being corralled towards their next appointments by throngs of suits, camera people and mobile-phone-shutter-happy-observers. [Read more…]

Faith for the Climate: Hope into Action in Paris and beyond

As the COP21 Conference enters it’s second week, Bishop Efraim M. Tendero The Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance reflects on his time at the conference and the role the global church can play in this issue going forward.

We came from 195 countries to Paris, some 40,000 individuals from government, intergovernmental organizations, United Nations agencies, Non Government Organizations and civil society for the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference.

I salute all the participants for working hard to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C. [Read more…]

Expectations Raised: Now it’s time to deliver

Tearfund’s Advocacy Director Paul Cook, continues our series of blogs on the COP21 Paris Climate Summit. 

Expectations were raised and there was an air of hope in the first days of the UN climate change talks in Paris.  Have we finally reached a tipping point for real progress on climate change?  Millions of ordinary people took part in more than 2000 people’s climate marches all around the world over the weekend of 28-29 November . In London more than 50,000 people took to the streets in the biggest climate march the UK has ever seen.   [Read more…]

From tragedy to hope

Crucial climate talks in Paris next week could see the city become a centre of hope for the world. In the first of a series of blogs that we will be featuring on this site, Paul Cook, Tearfund’s Advocacy Director highlights his hopes for the COP21 meeting and raises reasons for this hope and for why he will be present at COP21 and keen to raise not only his voice, but also the voices of our global neighbours.

Like most people I was shocked to wake up last Saturday to news of the horrific attacks in Paris. I have been praying for all those who have been affected and lost loved ones ever since. Paris became a city of tragedy in November, but in December it has the potential to become a centre of hope for the whole world. The French are pressing ahead with critical UN climate change talks involving all the world’s major leaders, and this year they have the potential to deliver a real breakthrough. In a few days I will be going with a small group of colleagues from Tearfund along with a group who are on a Pilgrimage to Paris to add our voices to help get a really good deal.

So how likely is that? Well in the run up to the conference over 160 countries, including all the major developed nations, representing more than 90 per cent of the world’s population have submitted their own national plans setting out what they will do to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions. The UN have added these up and if they are all implemented they would together reduce the total global average temperature rise by the end of the century from the currently projected three to four degrees to around 2.7 degrees above pre-industrial norms. This doesn’t sound like much, but the science tells us that in order to avoid the most damaging impacts of climate change the world needs to keep global average temperature rise to below two degrees, and ideally below 1.5 degrees. These agreements then aren’t anywhere near enough, but they would be a big step in the right direction.

We need to see these national commitments incorporated into a legally binding global deal in Paris. This deal also needs to contain within it the capacity to urgently review and ratchet up these commitments, even before they come into force in 2020, so they can be strengthened until they really are sufficient to keep us below two and even 1.5 degrees. Critically the agreement also needs a long-term goal of effectively getting all of our energy from renewable sources by 2050, so it is clear what all these short-term targets are ultimately heading towards. Finally we need progress from the world’s rich nations in providing at least $100 billion a year by 2020 to help poorer nations make this shift, and adapt to the impacts of a changing climate that they are already experiencing.

Image by Marcus Perkins for Tearfund

Image by Marcus Perkins for Tearfund

This is why these talks are so important to me and to Tearfund. In recent years I have sat with communities in Bangladesh whose homes were going underwater as a result of rising sea levels; villagers in the Philippines whose homes had been torn apart by tropical storms far more intense than anything they had previously experienced; farmers in parts of Zimbabwe whose crops now only get three months of rain a year when they used to get five; as well as many others.  For the world’s poorest people who have done the least to cause it, climate change is not an abstract thing that might be happening in the future. It is very real, it is happening now and it can be the difference between life and death. For them getting a good deal in Paris is critical!

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Momena (yellow and orange dress) has moved six times due to rising tides and because of cyclone Aila, she is one of many landless families living in the village of Kamarkhola. A climate refugee, Momena fears for her 19 year old daughter Shahana, rising tides and frequent cyclones means more than just moving and loss of livelihoods. Now, because so many communities are living in such close proximity to each other, sexual harassment is becoming more common. Image by Peter Caton for Tearfund.

We can all play our part in helping make that happen. You can pray with your friends and churches using these resources. You can also join tens of thousands of people around the world in taking to the streets. We will be at demonstrations in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London on 28 and 29 November and would love for you to join us there. If the nations of the world can step up in the next few weeks and agree a deal which makes a good start in tackling global climate change, then the news from Paris will begin to truly turn from tragedy to hope for the world’s poorest and for all of us.

Main image by Asian Development Bank via Flickr/Creative Commons.

Less is more: How eating less meat is good for all of us

My name is Matt and I’m a carnivore, I like nothing more than chowing down on my favourite quarter pounder with sweet corn relish, and it seems I’m not alone. In the UK we love burgers, but do we know much about  the links between what we eat and what it does to the planet?

A new study has been published, as reported by the BBC today, which says that the way we are eating is not sustainable in the long term. It suggests that as well as eatiburger imageng less meat, particularly beef, we need to get better at wasting less food and eating more healthily. The combination of these factors will be good for all of us and for the planet.

Changing our habits, especially the ones we love, is not an easy thing, but the rewards and the significance of doing it in this case are huge.

It’s clear that we are a meat loving nation, but, if we want to keep enjoying our way of life then we will have to rethink how we live. We need to eat less meat, waste less food and eat more healthily. If we don’t, the report suggests that our carbon emissions will go through the roof, which, as well as damaging the environment in the UK, also has an impact on those living in poverty across the world.

At Tearfund we have been, and remain committed to campaigning and advocating for policy change when it comes to matters of the planet and climate change. But we are also convinced that our lifestyles, values and behaviour are also important. We need change at both a local and international level, and we can be a part of the change we want to see in the world.

So if you want to start making some small changes that can have a big impact, why not follow some of these handy tips.

Top Tips

Less is More. Meat is a good thing, but we simply need to eat it less, savouring it when we can but saving money and helping to save the planet, a real win win. Why not try going one day a week without meat or if you are feeling really ambitious why not try living below the line for a week!

Growing Veg is fun. Just look at this great example of a movement called Incredible Edible. If we have more connection to something, we value it more. If you don’t have access to an allotment, then what about growing in your garden? The Eat seasonably website is a great resource for wannabe growers!

Vegetarian Food is a lot more delicious and nutritious than we might think. Rice and dahl is simple and delicious and does not need meat. There are loads of great recipes out there.

Read someone’s experience of changing the way they eat by checking out Ruth Valerio’s blog. She writes brilliantly and also has lots of great recipes.

Love Food Hate Waste offer lots of great ideas and recipes as well.