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COP26 (November 2021)

Dear Friends

I am writing this ahead of COP26, the UN’s Climate Conference which will gather in Glasgow at the end of October and into November. Its President-Designate, Alok Sharma, sets the scene thus: “COP26 needs to be decisive. Whether future generations look back at this time with admiration or despair, depends entirely on our ability to seize thismoment. Let’s seize it together.” (see

I am hugely optimistic. I may well be deeply disappointed by the outcome of COP26. But, for now at least, I look forward to it with hope, excitement and longing. This may be the moment when talk turns to action and the richest help the poorest. This may be the time when we turn towards healing our world as God tells us to. God always has told us to. It’s just that we have found ways to build our societies, economies, cities, homes and farms that aren’t kind to the planet and that are no longer sustainable. We know the problem. From here on for the rest of my life it is all about solutions.

Part of my optimism comes from the ways in which all of us can do different things to care for the Earth. We all have different chances, different contexts, different commitments. We each have different options. Some can do all sorts of things to make a house more energy efficient whilst others of us can’t. Some can drive an electric car whilst that’s impossible for others (more on our experience of this elsewhere in this newsletter). Some can stop eating meat, whilst my love of bacon makes that especially challenging for me. The last thing we need right now is to load yet more guilt upon anyone. Guilt doesn’t tend to be a sustainable motive for change. Love, passion for creation, faith in handing on a better planet to our great grandchildren motivates far better I suspect.

I’m also optimistic because of what humanity is already doing to care for the planet. I’ve started watching, in a mixture of awe, wonder and thankfulness, the TV programmes relating to The Earthshot Prize (seek them out on the BBC iPlayer, find them at I imagine many of you got there before me. The likes of Sir David Attenborough, Prince William, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim (an activist from Chad’s pastoralist Mbororo community) and the Colombian multi-award winning singer and educational advocate Shakira are on the panel that will award these prizes. Every year from 2021 to 2030 five prizes of £1 million will go to the projects and people most significantly demonstrating solutions to the five biggest global environmental challenges we face: protecting and restoring nature; cleaning our air; reviving our oceans; building a waste-free world; fixing our climate.

The winners will be given a huge profile to demonstrate that the changes needed are possible and within our reach. They will be like catalysts in a chemical reaction, sparking change. Do take a look.

Why call it The Earthshot Prize? Those behind it are deliberately echoing the gargantuan effort that captured the imagination of the United States when President John F. Kennedy, on 6th May, 1961, told the world of the Moonshot; landing a man on the Moon by the end of the decade and returning him safely to the Earth. Now, saving our planet demands just such a unity of effort, scientific and technological advance, global cooperation, and human passion. And, of course, for us there is the even bigger motivation. We do not own creation, God does. It is on loan to us and we are to care for it with every fibre of our being.

So, here’s Prince William: “The Earth is at a tipping point and we face a stark choice: either we continue as we are and irreparably damage our planet, or we remember our unique power as human beings and our continual ability to lead, innovate and problem-solve. People can achieve great things. The next ten years present us with one of our greatest tests – a decade of action to repair the Earth.” Amen, I say!

Yours in Christ,



What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep and cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

William Henry Davies (1871 – 1940)