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'It's not just up to world leaders': Role of faith groups role at COP28 unpacked

by Ros Mayfield

The Christian charity Tearfund is urging Christians in the UK to be inspired into action after the COP summit in Dubai, where for the first time ever, language about reducing fossil fuels has been included in the UN’s final text.

Laura Young, climate ambassador for Tearfund, was in Dubai for the conference, and tells Premier it was amazing opportunity to see so many nations of the world brought together.

“There is representation from all over the world - almost 200 countries," she said. "Walking around the site, it feels like you're seeing the whole world."

This was the first COP summit to include a ‘Faith Pavilion’ as one of the venues, where different faith groups could host events and hold discussions.

Laura says it was great to see the impact of faith communities being officially acknowledged in that way.

“Ultimately it's not just up to world leaders to be solving this, it's everybody. Eighty per cent of the world have a faith, and so it was brilliant that there was a faith pavilion. Tearfund was a huge part of that with many of the different activists that we had taking part in events, talking about not only what it means for them as an individual with their faith in climate action, but also really thinking about what it means for the Church globally to be acting on this.”

“It’s important to unlock influential people - church leaders, as an example - to really call people to action.”

The final approved text calls for countries to "transition away" from oil, coal and gas - but stops short of ordering them to be “phased out” which was the wording that many climate campaigners were hoping for, but Laura says there are still some positives to be drawn from it:

“One of the big things that this year's conference focused on was ‘loss and damage’ finance, to go to countries that have been devastated by climate change. And we've seen money pouring in, that's a really good thing. It's hundreds of millions of dollars, we need a lot more. But that was a positive start.”

She’s calling on Christians to get involved:

“I would just encourage Christians, maybe this is the first time you've thought about climate change as this summit has been on the news, or maybe this is something that's been on your heart for a while, but really think about pray about, what is it that we can all do individually to have those conversations and to make that change?

"We can be praying about climate change... we can be thinking as communities, what can we do physically, maybe it's with our building or with our local area. And then thinking individually - how can we be using our influence?"

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