COP26: Church Leaders in Africa Confident Climate Policies Will Be Friendly to Continent

A poster announcing the round-table on climate change organized by the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) in in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa. Credit: All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC)

Members of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) have, at the end of their round-table deliberations on climate change in Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, exuded confidence that the planed 26th Climate Change Conference of Partners (COP26) will yield friendly policies for the continent.

Expressing their eagerness to “raise the voice of Africa” in the November conference that will be held in Glasgow, the leaders of the ecumenical fellowship that represents over 140million Christians in 42 African nations said that Africa needs policies that will support countries on the continent that are struggling to implement their various climate actions.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa at the end of the two-day meeting that started Wednesday, May 19, the representatives of church leaders in Africa maintained the commitment of African countries to fight climate change.

“African faith leaders are determined and committed to the ongoing battle against climate change on the continent,” the leaders say in their May 20 statement shared with ACI Africa.

In the statement, AACC Secretary General, Rev. Dr. Fidon Mwombeki, observes that the effects of rising temperatures, excessive droughts and changing weather patterns are being felt in Africa, leading to cyclones, excessive flooding, and other misfortunes.


Faith-based leaders can also observe conflicts that Rev. Mwombeki says are arising from competition for resources such as depleting grazing lands due to droughts, underscoring the need for the leaders to join the battle against climate change.

“We are determined to represent our continent, raise our voices, and speak out with one voice as faith actors, so as to make a positive impact at the upcoming COP26 meeting,” Dr. Mwombeki says.

Organized by AACC, the two-day roundtable aimed to have the voice of church leaders heard on climate change, and craft a position for churches during the planned climate talks in Glasgow.

In his message to participants at the roundtable, the COP26 President-Designate, Alok Sharma, said the call to action from faith groups was vital in ensuring the world truly rises to the challenge of climate change.

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There is a need, according to the official, that the world recognizes the need to protect the most vulnerable and to unleash the full potential of the Paris Agreement.

“I wish to express my personal gratitude for your ongoing work with communities across the African continent. Your work is crucial to lay the best possible conditions for a successful, ambitious and inclusive COP26 summit,” Mr. Sharma said.

In his address to the representatives of church leaders in Africa, Archbishop Dr. Abba Aregawi of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church stated that his church’s beliefs are that it is a spiritual and religious commitment to safeguard the God-given environment.

“For this reason, the issue of climate change is treated not as a simple temporal politician’s project, or just an ecological or financial issue, it is a spiritual, social and moral manifestation of our religious devotion,” Archbishop Aregawi said.


The facilitator of the Roundtable, Dr Albert Butare who serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Africa Energy Service Group, noted that despite the continent having set itself development goals as enshrined in the Africa Agenda 2063, attaining these aspirations has become increasingly difficult due to the impacts of climate change.

In the AACC report shared with ACI Africa, Dr. Butare notes that the Paris Agreement had designated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDAs) as the platforms that would enable countries to access additional resources to finance ambitious climate actions.

“Consequently, African NDCs are among the most ambitious ones, and tend to be unrealistic given the continent’s limited means of implementation,” the official noted.

In his presentation, the chairman of the Political Committee of the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), Dr Augustine Njamnshi, said that Africa was looking towards COP26 for a global climate policy and action framework that “responds to their unique circumstances created by the injustices of disproportionate vulnerability, exposures to risks, and incapacity to protect itself without help.”

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Dr. Njamnshi expressed the commitment of the African continent to participate in climate initiatives “despite its insignificant contribution to climate change.

Scheduled to be held between 1-12 November, the COP26 summit is expected to bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Signed in 2016, the Paris Agreement sets out a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C.

The Agreement also aims to strengthen countries' ability to deal with the impacts of climate change and support them in their efforts.

Church leaders have, in anticipation of the COP26 summit, appealed to the developed countries to support poor countries in implementing climate action.

In a letter to the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU) and the European Commission (EC), Jesuit leaders in Africa and Europe called upon Europe, which they said belongs to the largest polluters, to renew its commitment to support developing countries in financing climate action.  

“At the COP 21 and the Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa in July 2015, European countries pledged to support developing countries to finance climate action. Europe needs to renew this commitment,” they said.

According to the information on the UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021, the UK has expressed a commitment to work with all countries and joining forces with civil society, companies and people on the frontline of climate change to inspire climate action ahead of COP26.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.