At a time when the world is looking to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on lives, livelihoods and economies, heads of governments, people’s movements and policymakers explored the opportunity to ‘build back better’ in the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) held in Glasgow, UK from 31st October to 12th November 2021 which brought together participants from 200 plus countries.

Prior to COP26, Fr. Stanislaus D’Souza, SJ (POSA) in his video message invited the Jesuits and collaborators to a personal, institutional, and collective conversion in favour of mitigating the climate crisis. JCSA’s Ecological Network joined the efforts of the Global community and that of Ecojesuits Global as Dr. Siji Chacko, SJ – the GIAN Ecojesuit Coordinator and the CDD – was present at COP26. He also took part in various side events organised by various Jesuit Missions UK, and addressed groups from UK organised by the Institute of Environmental Science for Social Change and Ecojesuits. He also joined the special Eucharist organised by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland which was attended by many Jesuits from England. Pope Francis’s encyclicals Fratelli Tutti and Laudato Si that called for solidarity and integral ecology, remained as an overarching message across.

While all expected more from COP26, it is important to note a few achievements:

  • Leaders from over 120 countries pledged to halt and reverse deforestation by 2030
  • A methane pledge, led by the US and the European Union, by which more than 100 countries agreed to cut emissions of this greenhouse gas by 2030
  • More than 40 countries – including major coal-users agreed to shift away from coal
  • Nearly 500 global financial services’ firms agreed to align US$130 trillion with the goals set out in the Paris Agreement, including limiting global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius

The Jesuit Collective-JCSA recognises that rising to the climate challenge, requires working together. As Pope Francis expressed in Laudato Si, “Many things have to change of course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change.”

Shruti Aggarwal
New Delhi