In mid-June global leaders from the G7 (Group of Seven) countries met in Cornwall. Mysteriously there were at least nine of them! I have just re-read the summary communiqué, and there are many things I find encouraging.
I am encouraged by the commitment to tackling Covid on the global scale, especially the commitments to making vaccines available in poorer countries. There seems to be a recognition that Covid infections anywhere in the world can lead to new strains of the virus potentially dangerous to even the best vaccinated countries. I am encouraged by the proposals for harmonising worldwide taxation so that big multinationals cannot avoid paying tax. I am encouraged by the importance given to economic development for all people and upholding the values of democracy. There are important commitments on protecting the planet.
Of course, it is possible to be very cynical about all this. For example, there is an impressive target of mobilising $100 billion per year until 2025 to help poorer counties with the transition to low carbon economies. But this is in fact a deferment of an early $100 billion target which should have been achieved in 2020! For the UK it must also been seen in the context of the decision to cut Official Development Assistance from 0.7 to 0.5% of Gross Domestic Income. But it is important that the aspirations are good!
As Bishop’s Adviser for the Environment, I am very conscious of the next major climate conference coming up in Glasgow in November. COP26 is the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It represents crucial opportunity for the nations to work together in addressing Climate Change. More ambitious targets for cutting carbon emission are required. Greater support for developing countries is needed. It is a very important moment for the whole world. About 30,000 delegates are expected in Glasgow.
It feels like a privilege that two hugely significant conference, G7 and COP26, should both take place in the UK in 2021. I have been struck by the Youth Christian Climate Network who are organising a relay walk from the G7 in Cornwall to COP26 in Glasgow, highlighting the need for ambitious agreements at COP26. The relay set out from Truro Cathedral on 13th June, just as the G7 was ending. It covers a 1,000 mile circuitous route, arriving in Glasgow on 31st Oct, the day before COP26 starts. The route for the Coventry to Birmingham section passes near us on 22nd August. The relay has a three day residential in Birmingham 24-26th August, which will include public events. Then on 27th August the relay sets off again in a northerly direction. I plan to do what I can to support the relay when it is in this area. I hope many others will do the same.
With prayers and best wishes, Fr Patrick
A Prayer for the United Nations
God and Father of us all, bless the United Nations Organization.
Grant it wise leadership, sound management and the support of all nations.
May understanding and goodwill grow between nations.
May peace and human rights flourish.
May the world’s resources be shared fairly and used sustainably.
May the climate and oceans be saved.
May your kingdom come. Amen.