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Learning and leading: Quaker climate action in 2020

In the build-up to COP26, Oonagh Ryder outlines how she can support Quakers who are working to put people and the planet before profit.

Quakers across Britain are pressing the government to meet emissions targets. Photo: BYM
Quakers across Britain are pressing the government to meet emissions targets. Photo: BYM

In my first few weeks as Activism Support Coordinator at Quakers in Britain, I've been amazed at the extent, variety and creativity of Quaker action on climate change.

The deep commitment Quakers have to valuing all life and placing equality and justice at the heart of their witness is clearly expressed through this work. It demonstrates that Quakers in Britain have an important contribution to make to global movements for climate and economic justice.

My role is based in the Economics and Sustainability Team, so I'll be supporting activism on climate justice and on the new economy. Whether you're a seasoned activist or just getting interested (or somewhere in between), I'm here to support you in learning more about these issues, considering what action you can take to make political, social and economic change.

The year ahead

In 2020 the sense of urgency and momentum around addressing climate change is greater than ever before. With the COP26 UN climate summit being held in Glasgow in November this year, Quakers in Britain have an opportunity to play a key role in supporting and leading climate action.

Alongside this, our understanding of the relationship between growing inequality and environmental destruction is deepening. People across the world are calling for solutions that acknowledge and address the ongoing legacy of colonialism and oppression, as well as fostering a peaceful and loving relationship with the earth.

Over the next few months we'll be creating resources to help you consider what you can do to put pressure on the government to commit to strong measures at COP26 and providing support to help you put these ideas into action. From educational events to direct action, there's a huge array of ways to get involved and bring climate justice to the fore.

Justice in action

COP26 will be a crucial moment for the climate movement in Britain and across the world. But it won't give us all the solutions we need to build a society based on love for fellow human beings and our planet. We need to carry on building a broad and resilient movement that can draw connections between climate change and other forms of injustice such as racism and extreme wealth, hold our government to account on its commitments and seek to redistribute power to prevent climate breakdown.

With this in mind, the support I provide in my role will be forward-looking and focused on developing connections between Friends and other groups working for justice, particularly those most impacted by economic inequality and environmental destruction. Not everyone is affected equally by these issues and we can all play different roles in creating change. We are always stronger when we work together.

Activism support

There are lots of different kinds of support that I can provide or help you access.

This includes advice on:

  • developing your strategy
  • working together as a group
  • building alliances with other groups.

And practical support such as:

  • communicating your actions to other Quakers
  • helping you to find and use our resources on climate justice, the new economy and ways of making social change
  • arranging workshops for your meeting or community on climate justice, the new economy and ways of making change.

Get in touch

If you or your meeting are already planning action related to COP26, climate justice and/or the new economy more generally, I'd love to hear from you. Similarly, if you're interested in taking action and not sure where to start, let me know.

I'm here to investigate what kind of support Quakers need around activism, so your thoughts are very welcome. Just drop me an email and say hi!

Email Oonagh