Charities launch COP26 climate action plan for Glasgow conference
2 March 2020
More than 60 British charities have set out a climate change strategy for the UK government ahead of COP26 in Glasgow in November 2020.
The charities, which include CAFOD, have written a letter to Boris Johnson setting out a ‘Glasgow Action Plan’ with jobs for the government to undertake ahead of COP26 – including putting the UK on track to cut emissions to net zero and ending financial support for fossil fuels overseas.
The letter says that Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, the fires in Australia and the flooding which has devastated communities in the UK are recent examples which show how “everything must be done” to make the climate talks a success and keep temperature rises down.
What is COP26 and why is the Glasgow climate summit important?
COP26 is the UN climate summit taking place between 9-20 November 2020. The UK is hosting as president alongside Italy.
The Glasgow COP conference is important because it is the moment when countries that have signed the Paris Agreement on climate change must present new targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. This is critical for keeping temperature rises below 1.5C and preventing the world’s poorest communities suffering even worse catastrophes as a result of the climate emergency.
What is the Glasgow Action Plan and what must the UK do ahead of COP26?
The Glasgow Action Plan presents five steps for the UK government to take to make the November climate talks a success.
The letter to Boris Johnson says that the COP gives the Prime Minister “a chance to write a new chapter in history by achieving significant progress” by helping the world to halt the climate crisis.
These steps in the COP strategy are:
1. Getting countries to show ambition and set new climate targets
All of the countries that have signed the Paris Agreement have to make a commitment to cut their own climate emissions. The technical name for these climate pledges is ‘nationally-determined contributions’ or NDCs.
Under the terms of the Paris climate accord, leaders must set new, ambitious emissions targets this year – including the UK – and so the government must use its diplomatic power to encourage others to show the ambition needed.
2. Supporting communities hit by the effects of climate change
People in the world’s most vulnerable communities are already being hit by the climate crisis – this will only get worse as temperatures continue to rise.
World leaders have committed to providing the financial support to the countries which are most vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis as many of these states have done the least to contribute to the emissions driving global heating. The Glasgow Action Plan says the UK must work to get other countries to provide more support to the people on the frontline of the climate crisis.
3. Do more to protect the natural world
As Pope Francis points out in Laudato Si’, “the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” are connected.
We need governments to do more to protect nature and biodiversity – including tackling deforestation, planting more trees and protecting the wildlife we rely upon to help the natural world thrive.
4. End support for fossil fuels and help people get access to renewable energy
Pope Francis also says that we need to replace the fossil fuels which are emitting greenhouse gases “without delay” and switch to renewable sources of energy.
Although the UK government has pledged to stop supporting coal overseas, it is still backing oil and gas. At the same time, millions of people lack safe, reliable and affordable access to electricity.
Governments must support a “just energy transition” that switches support from fossil fuels, which are pushing people deeper into poverty, to sources of renewable energy, which protect the environment and help to bring power to poor communities.
5. Put the UK’s house in order and get us on track to reach net zero
The UK government set a target of reaching net zero greenhouse emissions by 2050 after campaigning by people up and down the country, including thousands of Catholics.
But now we need the government to put in place the policies to achieve the goal, including making our homes warmer and reducing energy waste, helping people to switch from petrol and diesel to electric cars and to protect the natural world in the British Isles.
Who are the charities supporting the Glasgow Action Plan?
The charities presenting the Glasgow Action Plan to the government include CAFOD and other members of The Climate Coalition, such as Christian Aid, Islamic Relief, RSPB, the Woodland Trust, WWF and the WI.