Reflections on COP26

In Glasgow, it was so encouraging to see Christian young people across the world and especially in the UK taking this up and making their voices heard.

13 DECEMBER 2021 · 15:39 CET

Cop 26 was held in Glasgow, Scotland. ,
Cop 26 was held in Glasgow, Scotland.

COP26 was a very different COP (Conference of the Parties). What we expect to come out of any COP meeting is strong and good decisions that are binding that will lead to ensuring that the issue of Climate Change is addressed and all the nations in the world play their part in ensuring that.

Perhaps we are a bit disappointed with COP26 because we did not get the strong commitments that we wanted to keep global temperature rise to below 1.5. However, in spite of all this, I have come back from Glasgow more hopeful.

This was the 4th time that I was attending a COP meeting – the previous times being the COP in Lima, Paris and Bonn. So why was this COP different and what gives me hope and why am I more hopeful?

The biggest difference this year was that it was a meeting that was organized in the midst of a global pandemic – a pandemic that has changed lives and obviously impacted the way in which COP was conducted and also dictated a lot of the logistics at the venue. The usual hub and noise of COP with civil society organisations actively engaged seemed to be missing to a certain extent. The ‘hybrid’ or exclusive online sessions meant that technology had to be of the highest quality and that many speakers and participants did not have to travel all the way to the venue thus avoiding even more carbon footprint.

This was also a different COP as the ‘world’ had an extra year to prepare for it as it was postponed from 2020. The biggest advantage of this was the anticipation and talk about COP26 on many media platforms before it happened. The social media world was inundated with posts about the event which was a welcome change to previous years where very little is known about the event at all in popular media.

My own friends and family who were previously not very aware knew about this event and kept up with what was going on including things like the Queen was not going to address the event due to ill health! So many prayed for me even before I left India. I am hopeful that this new awareness about the gathering will lead to even more action and prayer regarding climate change and climate justice.

In previous COPs, we had some Christian engagement – I remember addressing a group of church leaders at a church breakfast event in Lima talking about why we should be interested in the COP happening in their city, there were similar but small scale events in Paris and Bonn too.

Glasgow was completely different. It was so encouraging to see Christian young people across the world and especially in the UK taking this up and making their voices heard. The climate relay initiated by the Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN) to Glasgow was an incredible example of what can be done if we commit to an issue. They continued their engagement in Glasgow. I am hopeful because it is so exciting to see the younger generation who are so much more proactive and concerned and passionate.

I have had the privilege of speaking in churches or Christian events in previous COP venues. This was the first time that I found myself ‘extremely busy’ speaking at many church events speaking, leading prayers, joining in worship – all related to COP. And I was not the only speaker – there were several others who were equally or even busier than I was.

When the team that I was travelling with arrived by train to Glasgow we arrived at St. George’s Tron church – right in the heart of the city. That church became a hub for so many services and events related to the COP. Most events fully booked! There were so many networks and groups working together to inform and engage with people from all over the world. It was exciting to see how much better we had become at working together. I am hopeful as there so many more churches who have realized that creation care is an issue of Christian discipleship and are committing and calling for more action.

As a university student in New Delhi, I went to my fair share of marches demanding justice for various issues. However, the Climate March in Glasgow, on a very cold, wet and blustery day was the biggest march that I have been a part of. The group that I marched with first met together in a local church that had thrown open its doors for the gathering – the church was packed as we prayed, and we joined thousands of others marching that day for climate justice. A day after the march I visited a friend in rural Scotland and someone known to her had come all the way to Glasgow to attend that service and be part of that march. The fact that there are many who volunteered and committed their time and resources to raise their voice for climate justice gives me hope.

That morning as we marched, I urged those in the church to picture a family of farmers in India who live lightly and yet pay heavily. In the midst of all the discouraging news I am hopeful because I believe that more people are aware, more are raising their voice. There is hope for that family of farmers. There is hope for the next generation. However, we need to work much more so let us not stop but with hope and faith continue to raise our voice.


Lalbiakhlui Rokhum, who is more popularly known as Kuki, comes from Mizoram in North East India. She currently serves on the leadership team at the Evangelical Fellowship of India Commission on Relief (EFICOR) in New Delhi looking after the Training and Mobilization Department. 

This article was first published on the website of the European Evangelical Alliance.

Published in: Evangelical Focus - European Evangelical Alliance - Reflections on COP26