Jamie Williams, Senior Policy Advisor for Islamic Relief Worldwide

As Islamic Relief prepares for COP26, the UN climate change conference, Islamic Relief’s senior policy advisor Jamie Williams shares his thoughts in anticipation of the event. The conference will start later this week in Glasgow, Scotland and will be an opportunity for Islamic Relief to hold world leaders to account as climate breakdown reaches a critical point.

People are asking me “Are you excited about going to the COP?”

My answer is yes. I am looking forward to this climax of four years’ work and preparation at Islamic Relief. We have established ourselves as a reliable and informed voice on the third pillar of the UN climate convention. Our strategic goal, to be recognised for our ‘distinctive expertise in livelihoods and climate change adaptation’, has been achieved. At this COP in Glasgow, Islamic Relief is promoting locally-led, people-centred adaptation.

But also no.

It is hard to be excited about lengthy meetings, often stretching late into the night, where single words or choice of punctuation can lead to endless discussion.

It is hard to be excited when you know that each moment lost is a moment that our Earth cannot afford.

It is hard to be excited when, with all the evidence burning and flooding its way into the headlines, and scientists yelling for action, still there will be countries more interested in protecting their vested interests than those of the planet and its people.

But really, excitement would not help in the struggle. It is all about hard work and persistence.

We need action now so that temperature rises no more than 1.5 degrees, so that the people affected by those fires and floods and droughts and terrifying storms, and who are least able to cope, receive the support they need, so that the massive destruction that goes beyond coping is properly addressed.

Then I will be excited.