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As Biden kickstarts global climate talks, UK campaigners urge world leaders to make climate commitments a reality

20 April 2021

20 April 2020

This week, US president Joe Biden gathers 40 world leaders to start negotiations ahead of the international COP26 climate summit.

But climate campaigners across England and Wales say the only way November’s COP26 in Glasgow can be a success is if every nation commits to action to stop temperatures rising above 1.5 degrees.

“As the focus has been on the pandemic, it could be easy for governments to make decisions which are cheaper in the short term but continue to have a massive impact on the environment,” said Erin Walsh, 18, a youth worker and climate campaigner from Essex. 

The calls come as the UK prepares to host both the COP26 in Glasgow and the G7, which takes place in Cornwall in June. Both events are key moments in a year that gives the UK Government a unique opportunity to make a difference globally. 

Campaigners argue that decisions made at these summits will influence how the world recovers from a pandemic that has increased poverty and inequality while the climate crisis has continued apace.

“Short-term thinking would disproportionately affect the countries that have contributed the least to the climate crisis,” continued Erin, who is planning to attend the G7 climate conference with charity CAFOD. “This is why it is important to care about global cooperation towards a green recovery.” 

Long before the pandemic, families from around the world have been speaking out about the uncertainty and disruption they face because of climate change. 

In 2009, CAFOD met with the De Silva family in Brazil . Mother Elisa warned that her family were already feeling the impacts of the changing climate. “The heat has increased and the rains are little,” she said. 

Years later their lives were still being disrupted by climate change that causes droughts and floods killing cattle, fish and crops and making the future uncertain.

“Our river used to be abundant but it’s suddenly dried up,” said Elisa, speaking before the historic Paris climate talks. “The fish that we used to catch have disappeared.” 

In less than two months, campaigners at the G7 will be urging leaders to support the poorest nations by cancelling all debt payments owed by low-income countries. 

“Immediate debt cancellation for the world’s poorest nations is urgently needed to ensure they can recover from the pandemic and tackle the climate crisis,” said Aisha Dodwell, CAFOD’s head of campaigns. 

“It is deeply unjust that countries across the global south are having to repay, with high interest, some of the wealthiest companies on earth when this money is desperately needed to fund a green recovery from the pandemic.”

As the leaders’ talks are streamed globally this Thursday and Friday (April 22 and 23), find out how you can support CAFOD’s campaigns in the run-up to both the G7 and COP26.

Notes to Editors

For further information and interviews with spokespeople, please contact: Elouise Hobbs,, Mobile: +44 (0)7954 077426, Or, CAFOD’s 24-hour media hotline on +44 (0)7919 301 429 

  • CAFOD is the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and part of Caritas International. We reach out to people living in poverty with practical help, whatever their religion or culture. Help us build a world where no one is beyond reach of the love and care they need.