THE ROAD TO #COP26 has been a long one for Ekklesia. Environmental action was integral to our vision when we were first established nearly 20 years ago, and continues to be so.

We were early backers of a Green New Deal, a fundamental re-orientation of the economy away from neoliberal capitalism, and divestment from fossil fuel and other harmful industries.

Back in 2015 we published two important research papers by David Atkinson – Climate change and the Christian Gospel (precis) and A Christian response to Climate Change Scepticism (precis). Both these are archived in full as PDFs on our old site, here and here respectively, and will shortly appear as documents on this new one.

Since then, the climate crisis (and our understanding of it, not least through the latest IPCC ‘Code Red’ report in August 2021) has escalated considerably.

Extinction Rebellion was established in 2018. We did not get involved immediately (put off by the style of some early communications), but started reporting and supporting the movement in October of that year. We also endorse the brave work of Christian Climate Action, who work closely with XR.

More recently, Ekklesia was a signatory to the COP26 Climate Action Plan, which pressed the UK Government for decisive action in a number of areas. These included, specifically:

● New fossil fuel finance, subsidies, and insurance should be replaced with equivalent flows into renewables.

● HM Treasury and the Bank of England should jointly develop a UK climate finance plan to end all new fossil fuel financing by year end 2021, in accordance with article 2.1c of the Paris agreement

● A core COP26 priority should be aligning finance flows with the development needs of the ‘global south’ and transition communities. Provide capacity and skills-based training to Commonwealth members to develop individual national strategies to end all new fossil fuel financing by year end 2021.

You can read more here. Needless to say, the Johnson government is dragging its feet and failing in these and other areas. But the COP26 process will (and should) ratchet up the pressure on them, and others.

We are encouraged by the greater commitment being shown by the Scottish Government at present, based around an agreement by the SNP and the Scottish Green Party – though there is still much further to go.  Concrete action for change and both the governmental and civic levels is something all parties should be signed up to.

In specific policy terms, I am pressing for a Just Transition Roadmap in Scotland, based around a register of jobs and industry being transitioned. The aim is to establish specific interim and end goals, to identify and monitor practical targets, and to ensure remedial action where necessary.

The scale of local and global change required to face the climate emergency we are living through (and towards) is huge. As analyst and campaigner George Monbiot has said, “To avert environmental disaster, we need sudden and drastic change. Impossible? No, it has been done before.”

In terms of the COP26 conference itself, which starts in Glasgow today, we will be covering the debates, decisions, protests and the actions around the event. NEF’s guide to the issues is succinct and helpful. A good introductory guide to what is going on in Glasgow, and opportunities to participate, can be found here.

A welter of information is now available on the climate emergency, climate action and the policies needed to address the crisis. But people still often feel overwhelmed by it all. As both a change network and a think tank, we understand that. It is necessary to break it down. So you can follow our regular coverage via Twitter here.

For a single treatment of the whole issue, we thoroughly recommend Quaker thinker and activist Alastair McIntosh’s superb book, Riders on the Storm: The Climate Crisis and the Survival of Being. As Christopher Silver aptly summarises, this is “a remarkably accessible precis of the science behind climate change and the pitfalls of denialism and alarmism, followed by an exploration of the ethical and spiritual reckoning these great changes present.”

More will appear on Ekklesia’s website (which you are reading right now), our Facebook page and group and Twitter feed throughout #COP26. We also recommend


© Simon Barrow is director of Ekklesia. His commentary and articles can be read here.