COP 26: Daily reports from a Canadian Ecumenical Delegation


COP 26: Daily reports from a Canadian Ecumenical Delegation

A joint ecumenical delegation of The United Church of Canada (UCCan) and For the Love of Creation (FLC) will virtually attend the United Nations Climate Change COP26 being held October 31 – November 12, 2021. This delegation has the unique opportunity to follow the negotiations, connect with national and international climate justice advocates, engage with Canadian officials, and share their experiences with the broad, cross-Canada network of churches and faith-based organizations affiliated with For the Love of Creation.

Eight delegates have been selected from across the country. They share a deep commitment to climate justice and bring with them a diverse range of knowledge, skills, and experiences including Indigenous perspectives and an understanding of the Global South. Among them, two representatives of Catholic women religious congregations (Sabrina Chiefari and Darlene O’Leary) agreed to share their experience during this global event. Here is the list of delegates:

  • Sabrina Chiefari, Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto, Toronto, ON
  • Janet Gray, The United Church of Canada and KAIROS, Victoria, BC
  • Rev. Alecia Greenfield, Anglican Church of Canada, Vancouver, BC
  • Nelson Lee, Mennonite Central Committee, Vancouver, BC,
  • Karri Munn-Venn, Citizens for Public Justice, Luskville, QC
  • Darlene O’Leary, Sisters of St. Martha of Antigonish, Antigonish, NS
  • Tony Snow, The United Church of Canada, Calgary, AB
  • Stephanie Stringer, Development and Peace and the Anglican Church of Canada, Montreal, QC

You will find below highlights, impressions, stories, and hopes written by Darlene O’Leary of their daily virtual discussions.



Day 1 – October 31, 2021



The COP26 Opening Ceremony:

The opening included the transfer of Presidency from Chile to the UK. A panel of representatives greeted the delegates and shared their hopes for the conference. Some noted a feeling that progress has been made in commitments to reduce emissions and increase finance to support countries in need for adaptation and mitigation. Others indicated a fear that we will not reach the targets to “keep 1.5C alive.”

COP26 Multifaith Talanoa Dialogue Panel:

This event, hosted by the Interfaith Liaison Committee to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is a space for faith communities to share initiatives, hopes, and concerns in the spirit of Talanoa Dialogue. Talanoa dialogues are a method used by the Indigenous People of Fiji to solve problems with openness and inclusivity. Participants in this method respond to three questions: Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there? The event began with an opening panel and moved to small group discussions that were organized by theme and the Talanoa dialogue format. The event ended with a shared Interfaith worship.


“Total inclusion must be the foundation upon which this process is built. We are all facing the same climate emergency. We must all be part of the solution.” Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

“US and Canada Indigenous have stopped or delayed the equivalent of one quarter of climate emissions. Back us or let us lead. Get in line or get out of the way!” India Logan Riley, Indigenous Representative, Te Ara Whatu, Aotearoa

UNFCCC Patricia Espinosa -“Let Glasgow be the beginning of a new era of resiliency.”

Patricia Espinosa “As poet Robbie Burns said, ‘Now is the day, now is the hour’.”

Abdulla Shahid, Chair, UN General Assembly “we have failed to act with the conviction needed and we have run out of excuses – let’s get it done.”

Pope Francis – Tweet – “This is a moment to dream big, to rethink our priorities – what we value, what we want, what we seek – and re-plan our future, committing to act in our daily life on what we have dreamed of. The time to act, and to act together, is now. #COP26

Stories, Impressions, Reflections

At this opening day of COP26, I’ve been very moved to listen to people from around the world who care so deeply about this beautiful, sacred planet and all of creation. People speak of the land and the seas, the birds and the bears, the trees and plants, as our relations and as sacred. Voices of people from around the world are calling for climate action and climate justice grounded in love and hope. Will we be the last generation allowed to hope? Who will support the quest for not just abundant life, but for dignity? These are the questions being raised. Or as the Talanoa dialogue guides us, we ask “Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there?” Will we learn to live differently? Will we be guided by Indigenous Peoples and Indigenous knowledge to find the right path of living in harmony?

We pray that this cry from the Earth and from all people will take hold at COP26 and steer us to a future that allows us and the next generations to live in hope and in harmony with all of creation.

To follow COP26 online go to the COP26 Youtube channel:

Day 2 – November 1st, 2021



Opening Ceremony: World Leaders Summit

The official opening ceremony of COP26, involving world leaders and dignitaries, was a collection of contrasts. It began with the invitation to recognize our larger cosmic context and then asked “with this understanding, how should we behave? We must consider ourselves and our world to be inconceivably valuable.”

Pacific Island Youth challenged leaders to demonstrate the political will to do the right thing and look to the climate leadership of young Pacific “climate warriors.” We were reminded that Indigenous peoples are at the front line of the climate emergency and must be at the centre of the decisions happening at COP26.

As others have expressed, as well, UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, stated that we must keep 1.5C alive. He announced the establishment of a group of experts to propose standards and analyze emissions, to address inconsistencies in metrics for measuring emissions reduction targets and reporting.

This event was followed by the “COP26 Leaders’ Event – Action and Solidarity: The Critical Decade.” World leaders had a very short time to share their hopes and commitments. Canada’s Justin Trudeau announced a new cap on the oil and gas sector. As with much of Canada’s climate commitments, implementation and achieving targets don’t always line up with goals.

In a side Green Zone session called “Catalysing our Net Zero Future: working with people to take action on climate change” speakers focussed on the lifestyle carbon footprint and how to motivate for individual and systemic change. Canada leads the world in lifestyle carbon footprint, with emission of 14.2 tonnes/capita/year. Though it must be noted that the higher income/consumer population is the highest emitters within Canada and globally. used an example of Saanich, BC in an exciting presentation on collaborations with all players in a community: government, business, schools, churches, NGOs and individuals. Sharing ideas that are working for other communities to follow to engage people and leaders in change.


“We were born to be creators of the possible future.” Yrsa Daley-Ward, poet and storyteller

“The sirens are sounding. Our planet is telling us something – and so are people everywhere. We must listen — we must act — and we must choose wisely. Choose ambition. Choose solidarity. Choose to safeguard our future and save humanity.” UN Secretary General Antionio Guterres

“1.5°C is what we need to survive … Can we find it within ourselves to bring Glasgow back on track or do we leave today believing it was a failure before it starts?” Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados

Stories, Impressions, Reflections

Our delegation came together today for our first “coffee break” to share our impression of the first full day of COP26. Some of what arose involved being somewhat overwhelmed by the process, navigating the platform, and trying to take it all in. We shared that a lack of access to proceedings is a worrying sign for public involvement in decision making.

We asked questions about Prime Minister Trudeau’s announcement, what does it really mean? Does a commitment to net zero get us to 1.5°C or not?

We asked questions about what consensus means. Does it include everyone in the process in ways that respect different ways of dialogue and narrative? Does it allow us to build a covenant with each other, with the Earth, and with God?

We asked questions about the unrest on the ground at COP26 and what is the role of faith communities in responding to defend those whose voices are not being included.

As we journey in this process, we will see if and how our questions can find answers, and if others emerge.

To follow COP26 online go to the COP26 Youtube channel:

Published on the CRC Canada website