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1 November 2021

COP26: Daily reports from a Canadian Ecumenical Delegation

A joint ecumenical delegation of The United Church of Canada (UCCan) and For the Love of Creation (FLC) will virtually attend the United Nations Climate Change COP26 being held October 31 – November 12, 2021. This delegation has the unique opportunity to follow the negotiations, connect with national and international climate justice advocates, engage with Canadian officials, and share their experiences with the broad, cross-Canada network of churches and faith-based organizations affiliated with For the Love of Creation.

Eight delegates have been selected from across the country. They share a deep commitment to climate justice and bring with them a diverse range of knowledge, skills, and experiences including Indigenous perspectives and an understanding of the Global South. Among them, two representatives of Catholic women religious congregations (Sabrina Chiefari and Darlene O’Leary) agreed to share their experience during this global event. Here is the list of delegates:

  • Sabrina Chiefari, Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto, Toronto, ON
  • Janet Gray, The United Church of Canada and KAIROS, Victoria, BC
  • Rev. Alecia Greenfield, Anglican Church of Canada, Vancouver, BC
  • Nelson Lee, Mennonite Central Committee, Vancouver, BC,
  • Karri Munn-Venn, Citizens for Public Justice, Luskville, QC
  • Darlene O’Leary, Sisters of St. Martha of Antigonish, Antigonish, NS
  • Tony Snow, The United Church of Canada, Calgary, AB
  • Stephanie Stringer, Development and Peace and the Anglican Church of Canada, Montreal, QC

You will find below highlights, impressions, stories, and hopes written by Darlene O’Leary of their daily virtual discussions.


DAYS 7 & 8 DAY 9 DAY 10
DAY 11 DAY 12 DAY 13

Day 1 – October 31, 2021



The COP26 Opening Ceremony:

The opening included the transfer of Presidency from Chile to the UK. A panel of representatives greeted the delegates and shared their hopes for the conference. Some noted a feeling that progress has been made in commitments to reduce emissions and increase finance to support countries in need for adaptation and mitigation. Others indicated a fear that we will not reach the targets to “keep 1.5C alive.”

COP26 Multifaith Talanoa Dialogue Panel:

This event, hosted by the Interfaith Liaison Committee to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is a space for faith communities to share initiatives, hopes, and concerns in the spirit of Talanoa Dialogue. Talanoa dialogues are a method used by the Indigenous People of Fiji to solve problems with openness and inclusivity. Participants in this method respond to three questions: Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there? The event began with an opening panel and moved to small group discussions that were organized by theme and the Talanoa dialogue format. The event ended with a shared Interfaith worship.


“Total inclusion must be the foundation upon which this process is built. We are all facing the same climate emergency. We must all be part of the solution.”
Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

“US and Canada Indigenous have stopped or delayed the equivalent of one quarter of climate emissions. Back us or let us lead. Get in line or get out of the way!”
India Logan Riley, Indigenous Representative, Te Ara Whatu, Aotearoa

“Let Glasgow be the beginning of a new era of resiliency.”
Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

“As poet Robbie Burns said, ‘Now is the day, now is the hour’.”
Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

“We have failed to act with the conviction needed and we have run out of excuses – let’s get it done.”
Abdulla Shahid, Chair, UN General Assembly

“This is a moment to dream big, to rethink our priorities – what we value, what we want, what we seek – and re-plan our future, committing to act in our daily life on what we have dreamed of. The time to act, and to act together, is now. #COP26
Pope Francis – Tweet –

Stories, Impressions, Reflections

At this opening day of COP26, I’ve been very moved to listen to people from around the world who care so deeply about this beautiful, sacred planet and all of creation. People speak of the land and the seas, the birds and the bears, the trees and plants, as our relations and as sacred. Voices of people from around the world are calling for climate action and climate justice grounded in love and hope. Will we be the last generation allowed to hope? Who will support the quest for not just abundant life, but for dignity? These are the questions being raised. Or as the Talanoa dialogue guides us, we ask “Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there?” Will we learn to live differently? Will we be guided by Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous knowledge to find the right path of living in harmony?

We pray that this cry from the Earth and from all people will take hold at COP26 and steer us to a future that allows us and the next generations to live in hope and in harmony with all of creation.

To follow COP26 online go to the COP26 Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/UNClimateChange

Day 2 – November 1st, 2021



Opening Ceremony: World Leaders Summit

The official opening ceremony of COP26, involving world leaders and dignitaries, was a collection of contrasts. It began with the invitation to recognize our larger cosmic context and then asked “with this understanding, how should we behave? We must consider ourselves and our world to be inconceivably valuable.”

Pacific Island Youth challenged leaders to demonstrate the political will to do the right thing and look to the climate leadership of young Pacific “climate warriors.” We were reminded that Indigenous peoples are at the front line of the climate emergency and must be at the centre of the decisions happening at COP26.

As others have expressed, as well, UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, stated that we must keep 1.5C alive. He announced the establishment of a group of experts to propose standards and analyze emissions, to address inconsistencies in metrics for measuring emissions reduction targets and reporting.

This event was followed by the “COP26 Leaders’ Event – Action and Solidarity: The Critical Decade.” World leaders had a very short time to share their hopes and commitments. Canada’s Justin Trudeau announced a new cap on the oil and gas sector. As with much of Canada’s climate commitments, implementation and achieving targets don’t always line up with goals.

In a side Green Zone session called “Catalysing our Net Zero Future: working with people to take action on climate change” speakers focussed on the lifestyle carbon footprint and how to motivate for individual and systemic change. Canada leads the world in lifestyle carbon footprint, with emission of 14.2 tonnes/capita/year. Though it must be noted that the higher income/consumer population is the highest emitters within Canada and globally.

OnePlanet.org used an example of Saanich, BC in an exciting presentation on collaborations with all players in a community: government, business, schools, churches, NGOs and individuals. Sharing ideas that are working for other communities to follow to engage people and leaders in change.


“We were born to be creators of the possible future.”
Yrsa Daley-Ward, poet and storyteller.

“The sirens are sounding. Our planet is telling us something – and so are people everywhere. We must listen — we must act — and we must choose wisely. Choose ambition. Choose solidarity. Choose to safeguard our future and save humanity.”
UN Secretary General Antionio Guterres.

“1.5°C is what we need to survive … Can we find it within ourselves to bring Glasgow back on track or do we leave today believing it was a failure before it starts?”
Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados.

Stories, Impressions, Reflections

Our delegation came together today for our first “coffee break” to share our impression of the first full day of COP26. Some of what arose involved being somewhat overwhelmed by the process, navigating the platform, and trying to take it all in. We shared that a lack of access to proceedings is a worrying sign for public involvement in decision making.

We asked questions about Prime Minister Trudeau’s announcement, what does it really mean? Does a commitment to net zero get us to 1.5°C or not?

We asked questions about what consensus means. Does it include everyone in the process in ways that respect different ways of dialogue and narrative? Does it allow us to build a covenant with each other, with the Earth, and with God?

We asked questions about the unrest on the ground at COP26 and what is the role of faith communities in responding to defend those whose voices are not being included.

As we journey in this process, we will see if and how our questions can find answers, and if others emerge.

To follow COP26 online go to the COP26 Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/UNClimateChange

Day 3 – November 2nd, 2021



The day started out with the Leaders Event “Action on Forests and Land Use,” where we heard the commitment to prevent further deforestation globally and protect the natural world. While countries including China, Brazil, and the US are signing on to the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forest and Land Use, the Amazon is being decimated day by day. A new report by Nature Canada indicates that we are massively underreporting forestry related emissions, and “clear cutting approximately five NHL hockey rinks of boreal forest per minute.” Will real action come quickly enough to protect these sacred spaces – and could you get any more Canadian than measuring by hockey rinks?

Many more announcements and pledges came today. There was the Global Methane Pledge with an alliance of 90 countries setting out new regulatory measures to limit global methane emissions by 30% from 2020 levels by the end of the decade. African countries committed to spend $6bn on adapting to climate impacts. At least $1.7bn of funding will be given directly to Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs). This is a plan to coordinate the global introduction of clean technologies in order to rapidly drive down their cost. And Prime Minister Trudeau is calling for a “global carbon tax” as the best path to keep 1.5C alive.

While it’s good to see large scale commitments, of course, the devil is in the details – the targets, the implementation, the ambition, the financing, and the accountability – to make sure things are moving at the pace and scale to meet the crisis.

A range of side events offered inspiration and insight today, including a great discussion called “Unlocking the Nature/Net Zero Balance” that focussed on water and wetland protection. Later, the Laudato Si’ Movement will host “Faith in Action for Climate Justice” where faith activists, youth, and leaders from around the world will share their voices for justice.

Please take time to read, reflect, and pray on the post from COP26 Ecumenical Delegation member Tony Snow, “All Saints Day at COP26” from the For the Love of Creation blog page.


“The solution to the climate crisis will not be achieved with more green capitalism. Or more global carbon markets. The solution is civilizational change, to move toward an alternative model to capitalism.”
Bolivian President Luis Arce.

“My truth will only land if you have the grace to fully listen.”
Elizabeth Wathuti, Youth Climate Activist from Kenya.

Stories, Impressions, Reflections

A subheading stood out for me today from the CBC – “Decoupling Growth from GHG Emissions.” This came from the panel on carbon tax when Prime Minister Trudeau called for a global program. There is an almost desperate optimism from rich world leaders that addressing the climate crisis need not impede economic growth. To me, it’s delusional, but not unexpected. Our delegation reflected today on the ups and downs of the process so far. We are lifted up by the spirit of love for the Earth and the action for climate justice happening around the world. Of course, we feel the frustration from empty talk, thinly veiled opportunism, and continued efforts to exclude the grassroots from decision making. But the spirit of hope and resistance will keep lifting us! That spirit is the real growth we need, and it’s alive!

To follow COP26 online go to the COP26 Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/UNClimateChange

Day 4 – November 3rd, 2021



The focus of the day has been on Finance. The day started with United Nations’ special envoy on climate action and finance, Mark Carney’s announcement that the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) has received commitments of $130 trillion US capital from global financial institutions to help with the transformation of the world’s economy toward clean energy. It is certainly an important shift. However, the GFANZ does not require signatories to end funding to fossil fuel, coal, and other carbon intensive industries.

As we heard prior to the start of COP26 from Canada’s co-led effort financing commitments to support countries in need of funding for adaptation and mitigation, the target of $100 billion/year that was reaffirmed in 2015 has still not been achieved in 2021 but looks likely in 2022. However, as the session called “Mobilising Equitable, Just and Gender-Sensitive Climate Finance” speaker Minister Nancy Timbo from Malawi noted, women and girls in the meantime are carrying the weight of the climate crisis. They cannot wait two or three years for financing. Further, it must be ensured that this funding does not add to the already unjust debt burden of countries in the Global South.

Other sessions today highlighted the importance of using pension funds to invest in sustainability. Speaker David Hayman at the session “How Your Wallet Could Save the World” noted that there are people protesting businesses doing environmental harm while their pensions invest in those very businesses. Film maker Richard Curtis stated, “Greening your pension is 21x more powerful than giving up flying, becoming a vegetarian and changing your energy provider combined”!

An initiative to watch from Costa Rica and Denmark that would end funding of oil and gas development and redirect support to clean energy has the support of 20 countries to divert funds starting 2022.

Notable Quotes

“There’s no way to adapt from extinction.”
Vanessa Nkate, Uganda.

“We will judge COP26 on how much rich countries stand in solidarity with vulnerable people … If there is no stream of finance agreed for people now, we will call this COP a failure.”
Harjeet Singh, senior adviser at Climate Action Network (International).

“We are human through creation and with Creation.
Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Anglican Archbishop.

Please read, reflect, and pray on this For the Love of Creation blog post from COP26 Ecumenical Delegation member Janet Gray, “Are we so blinded and hardened that we cannot appreciate the cries of humanity?”

Stories, Impressions, Reflections

Today, our delegation continued to navigate the ups and downs of COP26. There have been large scale announcements that sound promising but are often lacking important targets and clarity. There have been the wonderfully inspiring initiatives taking place on the ground globally, in spite of barriers, to support those already being hit by the impacts of the climate crisis. There has been the challenge of wading through language that can be understood and used in different ways that makes it easy to get caught in cynicism or frustration.

A seven-year-old boy, the son of an Imam who spoke at one of today’s sessions, called on world leaders to allow him and his friends to enjoy the blessings of nature. He lifted my spirit. We must find our sources of inspiration, and there are many. We must respect our impatience and well-earned skepticism. And we must keep moving forward together – in hope and love and solidarity.

To follow COP26 online go to the COP26 Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/UNClimateChange

Day 5 – November 4, 2021



Today’s focus was on energy and energy transition. An early morning statement had us feeling a bit hopeful when we heard that Canada is pledging to end all of its fossil fuel financing by 2022. Oh wait, just our foreign financing. Oddly, the election promise to end our domestic financing of fossil fuel projects by 2023 was not announced.

It was also announced that Canada, along with over 40 other countries, will commit to phasing out coal power and exports of thermal coal by the longer target date of 2030 for some, 2040 for others. While the support of the initiative is positive, there is a lack of urgency and ambition in the targets. As well, there has been little of discussion and commitment around a just transition, ensuring that workers and communities in fossil fuel dependent regions are part of the clean energy transition.

Much more good energy (literally) came from sessions taking place at side events. One to note was led by the Canadian-based Indigenous Clean Energy (ICE). The session “’Just Climate Energy’: Indigenous Renewable Energy Microgrids for Energy Transition” featured Indigenous energy projects in Canada/Turtle Island that are providing “energy sovereignty” for Indigenous communities. The projects are allowing communities to shift away from dependence on diesel, through solar, wind, hydro, and other energy sources, while being led by community consensus and input.

According to ICE, Indigenous communities in Canada are far surpassing municipalities in Canada’s clean energy transition. The key, however, is how they are done, with community members leading the projects from the start, and aligning them with Indigenous cultural teachings and principles. It was a real inspiration to hear from these incredible, committed young Indigenous leaders!

At the same time, Amazon Indigenous groups shared stories of environmental devastation by large scale hydroelectric projects that have no real benefits to their communities. The contrast with the Indigenous community and consensus led model is striking!

Notable Quotes

“Indigenous people represent less than 5% of the world’s population but protect over 80% of our earth’s biodiversity. So, my mission is clear that Indigenous people need to be empowered to make decisions on climate policy. We will not make our 1.5C target without empowering Indigenous people.”
Mihskakwan James Harper, Sturgeon Lake Cree Nation

“We as individuals across the world cannot give our power simply to international negotiators at any COP. We cannot give our power to CEOs or leaders. We as individuals need to find our identity, reach and create our communities. Every neighbourhood, every household should be holding their own COP.”
Chief Dana Tizya Tramm, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation

Stories, Impressions, Reflections

On a day focussed on energy transitions, our delegation was feeling a bit low on energy today, as the long days and intense processing set in. We’re learning as we go how to stay centered and rested. Prayer is part of that time for us, as well, each day an essential grounding in what has brought us together to be part of this global gathering.

As global leaders wordsmith statements and agreements, often watering down what should be bold action plans, communities on the ground are already working for system change. That’s where the energy is!

A bald eagle has kept me company through each day. He perches on top of a large spruce tree looking for food or just enjoying his beautiful home. I like to think he is part of this global gathering, too, with all the creatures. We carry all of these in our hearts and prayers as our witness goes on.

To follow COP26 online go to the COP26 Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/UNClimateChange

Day 6 – November 5, 2021



The focus of COP26 Day 6 is youth and public empowerment, and it’s clear from the massive rallies in Glasgow and globally today and set for tomorrow that youth and people on the ground want less empty talk and more urgent action.

One of the clear messages from delegates in the side events is that young people and people most impacted by the climate crisis are not waiting for political and finance leaders to provide direction. They are living out the system change that they want to see. In the session “What does meaningful youth leadership look like?” youth from “Mock COP” shared the treaty that was developed by 330 delegates representing 140 countries who formed their own online mock COP in 2020. The treaty outlines 18 policy demands for world leaders including action on climate justice, climate education, and more ambitious nationally determined contributions (NDCs).

Youth are raising the concern that decisions about their future are being made without them by world leaders. This concern is also being raised by Indigenous communities globally. While talks are taking place on implementing Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which involves international emissions trading and carbon credits, Indigenous groups are warning against the use of carbon credits as part of NDCs, if they do not include strong and enforceable environmental and social protections. This concern was well outlined at the session “Making the Paris Agreement work: Addressing Indigenous Peoples’ Rights in Art 6 and Climate Finance.”

At the event, “Faith in action: Community-led & gender inclusive adaptation for climate justice” led by the Church of Sweden, panelists shared ways that faith communities can support local and gender inclusive climate adaptation actions. Women and girls in the global south are carrying the burden of climate impacts now and are 14 times more at risk of dying during natural disasters.

Starting Sunday, the People’s Summit for Climate Justice will further highlight the voices of those most impacted by the climate crisis.

Notable Quotes

“A Paris (article) 6 that does not have rights clearly exemplified and explained will not protect the rights of Indigenous people, will not be what Indigenous people are looking for… we really look forward to a consultative framework to establish a truly responsive governance opportunity for Indigenous people.”
Kimaren Ole Riamit, Indigenous Livelihood Enhancement Partners.

“The leaders are not doing nothing, they are actively creating loopholes and shaping frameworks to benefit themselves and to continue profiting from this destructive system.”
Greta Thunberg, Youth climate activist.

Please take time to read, reflect, and pray on the For the Love of Creation blog posts by delegation members Sabrina Chiefari and Karri Munn-Venn: https://fortheloveofcreation.ca/blog/

Stories, Impressions, Reflections

Our delegation took time to reflect today on our first week together at COP26. With today’s focus on youth, we wondered how to support young people as they grapple with the reality of the climate crisis. In some ways, they are taking on this crisis with creativity and energy and are showing such leadership. However, for many it’s a heavy burden to carry, and it’s leading to real anxiety and fear.

For everyone, it’s important to find a way to ground ourselves. Today, we turned to the beautiful Wendell Berry poem, “The Peace of Wild Things.” We shared stories of family, faith, and openness of heart and spirit. We celebrated a birthday and shared our appreciation for those praying with us through this process.

We are all lifted knowing that we are part of this spirit and justice-filled moment together.

To follow COP26 online go to the COP26 Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/UNClimateChange

Days 7 & 8 – November 6-7, 2021



On Saturday, a Global Climate Rally was held around the world, with over 100,000 people showing up in Glasgow alone. Indigenous people lead the march, including members of the Kahnawake Mohawk Nation in Quebec. The strong message from those attending was for COP negotiators and global leaders to take real and urgent action. Certainly, there is a lot of grassroots energy, though there is also a great deal of frustration.

The theme on Saturday was Nature, which you might consider to be the theme of the entire conference, but it included discussions on nature-based solutions, conservation, food systems, and biodiversity. At one event, Canada’s Environment Minister, Steven Guilbeault, announced that 20% of Canada’s $5.7 billion contribution to international climate finance will go to supporting biodiversity and nature-based solutions. It was a welcome announcement. However, as we’ve learned from speakers from the global south, local and Indigenous communities must be involved in decisions making and implementation.

Sunday was the beginning of the People’s Summit for Climate Justice, a kind of alternative summit running parallel to COP26 for three days. Sessions in the People’s Summit highlighted the challenge of the green transition. Communities in the global south are concerned that extraction of resources needed for clean energy will be just as environmentally and socially destructive as other forms of mining and resource extraction that have been damaging their communities for decades. Others are concerned that climate solutions are being used to deny the reality that the wealthiest need to consume less energy, and the world needs rapid “degrowth.” While supporting the importance of the green transition, these groups say it is essential that it is done in a way that respects and listens to impacted communities, particularly Indigenous and in the global south.

Notable Quotes

“Indigenous Peoples and First Nations within Canada are not passive victims when it comes to climate change, we’re climate leaders.”
Regional Chief Paul Prosper, Assembly of First Nations.

“How is it possible that those that are responsible for feeding the world are going hungry?”
Ishmael Sunga, Southern African Confederation of Farmers.

To follow COP26 online go to the COP26 Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/UNClimateChange

Day 9 – November 8, 2021



The focus of the day is Adaptation, Loss and Damage. Discussions focussed on support for those most impacted by the climate crisis. We’ve heard already that the commitment by rich nations to fund $100 billion USD/year to poorer countries by 2020, set in 2009 and reaffirmed in 2015, has still not been met. The Green Climate Fund, which involves 194 countries, currently allocates 75% of funding to mitigation. People of the global south are calling for a more balanced division of those funds for mitigation and adaptation and immediate funding for loss and damage already being experienced. It is essential, as well, that funding goes to the communities in need in ways that include them in decision making and implementation.

While a great deal of attention today is on the arrival of former US President Barak Obama, Kenyan youth climate activist, Vanessa Nakate reminds us of the former president’s promise in 2009, when she was 13 years old, for climate financing of $100 billion USD/year by 2020. The US has not yet met that commitment.

A session today called “Fossil fuel divestment, climate justice and a just transition for all” led by faith organizations including the Laudato Si Movement, reminded the audience of the important role that faith communities have had leading on divestment from fossil fuels. In Ireland, for example, the work of faith communities led to a national divestment policy. We were also reminded that divestment alone is not enough. It must support climate justice and a just transition. Pastor Ray Minniecon, Aboriginal pastor from the Kabikabi and Gurang-Gurang tribes of Queensland, Australia, noted that faith communities must at the same time apologize for the Doctrine of Discovery and recognize the climate crisis as part of the long exploitation of Indigenous People.

Notable Quotes

“Today we’re still shouting for justice for our friends and families who have lost their lives…We are fighting for a future that is not riddled with anxiety and fear that another Haiyan might come anytime. We do not deserve to live in fear. We deserve a hopeful future. We demand urgent action.”
Marinel Ubaido, the Philippines and a survivor of
super typhoon Haiyan.

“…only awe and wonder inspires long term action. Only awe and wonder inspire cooperation, rational thought, and self-sacrifice to a higher good. The remaking of our world for the better will not happen by declaring war on global warming. War is fear based. It’s divisive its self-limiting and counterproductive.”
Ron Graham, former astronaut.

Please take time to read, reflect, and pray on the For the Love of Creation blog post by delegation member Alicia Greenfield: https://fortheloveofcreation.ca/listening-to-jeremiah-at-the-climate-parade-of-promises/#_ftn3

Stories, Impressions, Reflections

Sometimes we wonder if it makes a difference to go out on the streets and join a rally, to show up at events and call out for change. Certainly, some people who have been doing this for many years find change to be painfully slow if it happens at all. But if we didn’t show up, if we didn’t shout and march and witness, what then?

I’m thinking of Carlos from Ecuador who has been fighting for decades against mining in the cloud forest of the Andes. It is a fragile bioregion that is home to many species at risk. Now, the surge in renewables is part of the problem, as the demand for copper threatens his home. He is speaking out to ensure that a green transition is also a just transition. What if Carlos and his community members weren’t there to protect the cloud forest?

Even being part of a virtual delegation at an event far away allows us to connect, to learn, and to support climate action. This connection, this power of people working together for justice, taps us into something bigger than ourselves. It allows us to achieve remarkable, impossible, grace-filled things.

It is an imperative of our faith that we “do justice” at this time of crisis. If not now, then when? If not us, then who?

To follow COP26 online go to the COP26 Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/UNClimateChange

Day 10 – November 9, 2021



The theme of the day is Gender/Science and Innovation. We’ve heard throughout the conference that women and girls are the most impacted by the climate crisis. Women and girls, particularly from Indigenous communities, carry heavy loads already, and this is only increasing. They are more likely to die from pollution and natural disasters and more likely to go without food. They are more at risk of violence and conflict and 80% more likely to be displaced due to climate change. Two-thirds of climate funding is directed to men, while women are often at the centre of communities and innovation. We’ve heard that at COP26 75% of the officials in the “Blue Zone” are male, where high-level negotiations are taking place, and 80% of the delegates in the “Green Zone” are women, which is more reflective of grassroots and civil society leadership. Women are at the front lines on a local level but are often not included in the decisions that impact them.

There are shared roots between the exploitation of women and girls, Indigenous peoples, and the earth in the “predatory colonialism” that continues to live in political, economic, social, and cultural systems and structures. We are certainly seeing alternatives to these systems emerging, particularly from Indigenous innovation and traditional knowledge. Innovation grounded in traditional knowledge and guided by Indigenous people is leading the way by example in responding to the climate crisis.

However, the news today is stark with the release of a report by the Climate Action Tracker whose data analysis of the COP26 short-term pledges so far indicates that the world is not on track to limit warming to 1.5C. In fact, as they stand, these commitments would lead to a 2.4C temperature rise by the end of the century, leading to catastrophic and irreversible ecological destruction. The urgency has set in once again that Canada and the world cannot push action down the road to 2050 or even 2030. The focus now, urgently, needs to be on short-term implementation of community-driven solutions.

Notable Quotes

“Science will be an absolutely essential part of the solution, both the technology but also the behaviour aspect. We’re going to have to have a profound behavioural and cultural change in terms of our relation to the Earth, our relation to consumption, our relation to transport, etc., and that’s something that is extremely challenging.”
Mona Nemer, Canada’s chief scientific adviser

Please take time to read, reflect, and pray on the For the Love of Creation blog post by delegation member Nelson Lee: https://fortheloveofcreation.ca/adaptation-loss-and-damage-day-at-cop26/

Stories, Impressions, Reflections

Some of our delegation discussion today was about creating and sharing spaces for learning and acting and letting go of power. As we were talking, an eagle was again sitting on top of the tree outside my window. Suddenly, another eagle came and shoved the first eagle off. The new eagle took the top spot. The first eagle seemed to accept this quite well. I thought, well, talk about letting go of power gracefully!

In the global north, those who are privileged take up too much space. We consume more of everything, including energy, food, water. And we take up most of the social, political, economic, and cultural space. We’ll even try to justify it. But the planet and the people most impacted by the climate crisis know this. They know the limits, and we live well beyond them.

That being said, 50% of the planet does not live with enough. Not enough food, water, shelter, or other basic needs and not enough political and social space. This imbalance is the root of the crisis. The climate crisis is racist. It is sexist. It is unjust. And those of us taking up too much space need to live into a process of letting go. As people of faith, surely, we can see this as the way toward the flourishing of all life together.

To follow COP26 online go to the COP26 Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/UNClimateChange

Day 11 – November 10, 2021



The theme of the day was Transport, however, much of the morning was focussed on the draft negotiation outcome statement released late last night by the COP26 president, Alok Sharma. While there are elements in the statement that are important, such as the inclusion of the call for countries to end fossil fuel subsidies, the statement overall lacks a real sense of urgency. Civil society organization delegates from Canada and others are pushing for stronger commitments, targets, and urgency. This includes reporting of revised nationally determined contributions (NDCs) by 2022 and annually following that. It includes centring Indigenous people’s traditional knowledge and practice, particularly in implementation, and ensuring those most-impacted (Indigenous peoples, women and girls) have access to grant-based funding. It also includes ensuring that the promise of $100 billion/year in international funding is met by next year and that 50% is directed to adaptation, with an additional and separate fund for loss and damages.

The day, of course, also included discussions on sustainable transport, with civil society groups and activists emphasizing the importance of funding and ensuring clean public transit. While electric vehicles get a good deal of attention, along with their needed infrastructure, it is essential to highlight that public transit allows for greater environmental and social impacts. This includes better access for low-income people and a reduction in overall vehicle use. Additionally, an agreement has been supported by some countries, including Canada, and automobile manufacturers to end the sale of fossil-fuel powered vehicles by 2040 or sooner. However, many major manufacturers have not signed on.

And, of course, we cannot forget the importance of supporting the use of bicycles for transport, arguably the most sustainable transportation on wheels. Clearly, some communities do a much better job of designing bike-friendly access and infrastructure than others, so this is an area of ongoing importance. In fact, over 180 organizations globally, including in Canada, have signed a letter to world leaders at COP26 to take a better look at boosting support for cycling.

Also, of note today, Quebec and several countries were part of the launch today of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance, a coalition led by Cost Rica and Denmark aimed at ending new oil and gas projects. The alliance has not gained significant support.

Notable Quotes

“It is not enough to just acknowledge that there is a need for loss and damage finance, there needs to be greater clarity that, if we are to keep 1.5C within reach, the resources need to be there so that developing countries and emerging economies have access to the trillions of dollars that are needed to really close the gap.”
Eddie Pérez, Climate Action Network Canada (speaking to The Guardian)

Stories, Impressions, Reflections

Today, our delegation reflected on the question, “where is God in this?”

Each of us found our own ways of expressing how and where we see the movement of the Spirit and grace-filled spaces throughout this conference. We talked about the “hallways” where we scramble together to work out our analysis and our policy priorities together. And, of course, there are the people inside and outside of the event, and all around the world, dedicating their lives to the work for climate justice, for Indigenous rights, for inclusion and equity.

We discussed how this work of public and climate justice is part of how we express our love for creation and for our neighbours.

As Cornell West states, “justice is what love looks like in public.”

It’s a good reminder to keep in front of us, as we continue this process of witness.

To follow COP26 online go to the COP26 Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/UNClimateChange

Day 12 – November 11, 2021



The theme of the day is Cities, Regions, and Built Environment (or buildings). As with each day, there have been many activities, some on the theme, and some on other topics.

I got ahead of myself yesterday, as today was the launch of the Beyond Oil and Gas (BOGO) initiative, which is co-led by Costa Rica and Denmark. The initiative commits to the end of oil and gas production and exploration. Other countries/regions who were part of the launch were Ireland, Wales, Italy, Sweden, Greenland, New Zealand, Quebec, and California, with an indication that talks with others to join are ongoing. This is an effort to take leadership on the transition from fossil fuels, which continues to be a hesitation at COP26, despite the goals of the conference and targets being set for emissions reductions.

Sessions today highlighted the important roles of cities, urban areas, and sustainable buildings mitigation and adaptation. 70% of total greenhouse gas emissions come from cities. In the city of Toronto, for example, 40% of its emissions are from buildings due to things like inefficient energy use (lack of energy retrofitting), use of fossil fuels for energy, and unsustainable building materials. As well, pollution and poor building design and development already impact health and safety, particularly of urban Indigenous and racialized communities, and children. The climate crisis will increase those impacts significantly. It is essential, then, that cities start taking the lead in energy efficiency, sustainable buildings, and city and community design that incorporates nature and community-level inclusion.

On another note, yesterday saw a great session called “Catholics at COP26” with an informed panel to discuss how COP26 looks to them, what some of the Catholic and other faith initiatives have brought to the event, and some theological framing for this moment. Faith communities certainly showed up at COP26, and it’s wonderful to see their leadership and global reach. Dr. Lorna Gold from the Laudato Si’ Movement stated that there are really two COPs – the negotiated outcomes COP and the People’s COP – and there is such a disconnect between the two. However, witnessing to hope, as Dr. Carmody Grey shared, is part of our faith, and the Church must refuse to settle for a poor outcome to COP26.

Notable Quotes

“When you are on the verge of the abyss, it’s not important to discuss what will be your fourth or fifth step,” Guterres said. “What’s important to discuss is what will be your first step. Because if your first step is the wrong step, you will not have the chance to do a search to make a second or third one.”
Antionio Guterres, UN Secretary General

Stories, Impressions, Reflections

“It’s hard to believe business and finance leaders when they haven’t delivered before. We simply don’t believe it. But I am here right now to say: prove us wrong. I am actually here to beg you to prove us wrong. God help us all if you fail to prove us wrong. God help us.” Vanessa Nakate, Ugandan youth activist. I feel like sitting with these words, even though they are painful to take in.

Today, our delegation listened to the voice of another young woman, Indigenous poet Tanaya Winder speaking the poem “Stone Mother.” She speaks of tears creating a lake and words as seeds to be planted with care. “Follow our lead, for we have always been well versed in survival.” A speaker today from Nigeria said you don’t need much to survive. Why can’t we do with less and live with the earth and each other in ways that we all have enough?

Hope and lament certainly run through this event and through this moment. We pray that they both carry us forward as we continue to work for climate justice.

To follow COP26 online go to the COP26 Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/UNClimateChange

Day 13 – November 12, 2021



Today was the official closing day of COP26, though negotiations of the outcomes statement or “cover decision” are not yet concluded. The day started with a modified draft outcomes document. There have been some changes in language in the draft. For some, this signals a watering down of important pieces, such as the statement on phasing out coal and fossil fuel subsidies. While some saw this as a major step forward, given reference to fossil fuels hasn’t been included in previous outcomes, the document now adds the qualifying term of phasing out “inefficient” subsidies. In another case, the word “urge” has been replaced with “request,” softening expectations around meeting targets in 2030.

Other concerns are being raised around carbon credit trading and carbon markets, an outcome of Article 6 from the Paris Agreement, which is part of the negotiations. Part of the fear is that rich countries, who are the highest emitters, will chose to buy carbon credits from developing countries rather than lower than their own emissions. Or that countries will claim carbon credits for projects that don’t actually reduce emissions, or don’t include those most impacted, particularly Indigenous people. The lack of standardized accounting and transparency in reporting are part of the concern.

Other issues being raised involve ensuring that financing commitments of $100 billion/year to developing countries are met next year, with an increased percentage to adaptation. Funds tend to focus on mitigation, but poorer countries say they need support for climate impacts they are experiencing now. Further, there is a call by civil society organizations for a separate fund for loss and damage, which acknowledges that those most impacted by the climate crisis should be compensated by those most responsible for the climate crisis. Human rights, justice, and UNDRIP should guide the process.

It is likely a final cover decision will not be released today, as negotiators continue working on the draft.

However, civil society organizations are sharing what they want to see in the final outcomes. The Laudato Si’ Movement put out a statement signed by over 60 Catholic organizations indicating what they want to see as outcomes. It calls for an ambitious timeline for a just transition from fossil fuels, including human rights, Indigenous rights, and finance for adaptation, loss and damage. The Climate Action Network Canada statement offers more specific demands.

Notable Quotes

“We owe it to our poorest sisters and brothers, future generations, and all of God’s creation to seize this historic opportunity. In 2015, Pope Francis wrote in Laudato Si’ that fossil fuels need “to be progressively replaced without delay.” Now, in 2021, we have reached a decisive moment. We must reach an agreement in Glasgow that sets a clear and ambitious timeline for a just transition away from harmful fossil fuels. Setting out such a pathway is an essential step to accelerating investment in a clean energy future for all.”
Laudato Si’ Movement letter

Stories, Impressions, Reflections

We ended our time together as a delegation today listening to Canada’s Environment Minister in his new role speaking at such an important moment and important platform. He was very…diplomatic, balanced, careful. Perhaps these are all good qualities for ministers to have while in the middle of difficult negotiations. However, it doesn’t feel like the time for careful talk. Listening to country representatives speak today, the final chance for input into the cover decision, some clearly felt more was needed, and they received resounding applause. Others exercised “polite obstruction” clearly blocking efforts for further ambition.

At the end of all this, we go our own ways. Delegates attending in person go home. Our virtual delegation disperses. What happens next? For us and for so many others around the world, we continue the work for climate justice. It is clear from this COP that we cannot wait for world leaders to lead. We have to show them, and we are.

We leave this COP with deep gratitude for the time we have had together as a delegation. There was rich sharing and insights. We listened and learned together. And we brought our faith communities into this intense process of witness. We move forward in gratitude and in hope knowing we are part of a global movement of the Spirit for justice and love of creation.

To follow COP26 online go to the COP26 Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/UNClimateChange