COP 26 - What Can We Do?
Sarah, a volunteer for Sustainable Overton, explains what we can do at this critical moment in our fight for the planet.
This month the British Medical Journal published a special edition on climate, in which the impact of the climate crisis is explored, including the rise in ‘eco-anxiety’ – the anxiety people experience about the indifference with which the climate crisis is treated by others – particularly those in positions of power.
It can all seem a bit overwhelming, but COP 26 is an opportunity for change in this country. Here are a few ideas for how we can help.
Educate yourself about climate change and try to share that knowledge with your friends and family.
There’s a brilliant and informative series on the BBC currently called ‘The Earthshot Prize: Repairing Our Planet’ (all available here, on iPlayer). Five programmes, featuring Prince William and Sir David Attenborough, the series explains all aspects of the climate crisis, around themes of protecting and restoring nature, fixing our climate, cleaning our air, reviving our oceans, and building a waste-free world.
The Prize aims to find creative solutions from around the globe, to combat environmental problems.
Sir David himself explains ‘Despite knowing the science, we are yet to act fast enough. Maybe that’s not so surprising. Maybe we’d always wait until we could see the impacts with our own eyes, before we truly understood what is at threat. Well now we can most definitely see them. We must fix our climate, starting in earnest this decade.’ It’s made clear in the series that this is our last chance to be able to stabilise the climate to a level to which humans would be able to adapt. And that we can choose to create a world without fossil fuels, where we have transport systems powered by clean energy, where our food production is carbon neutral. We can choose to regenerate the wilderness we’ve lost, and protect the wild spaces we have today.
Reduce your Carbon Footprint
Secondly, do what you can as an individual to reduce your carbon footprint. There are so many things you can change for you and your family. Here are a few:
Reduce car travel
Try not to fly
Seek out a fully renewable energy supplier
Invest in your own renewable energy production in your home
Consume less stuff
Eliminate food waste
Change to a lower carbon diet (think about food airmiles, how food is produced, and cut down on meat and dairy).
Tell the politicians!
We need to stop investment in fossil fuels, and invest instead in green solutions which will tackle the climate crisis. This includes nature-based solutions to allow us to tackle the interlinked ecological crisis too. We need jobs created in renewable energy, green homes and clean transport. Retrofitting of homes to make them energy efficient and water efficient. New homes built to strict carbon neutral standards. We need to look after the nature that we rely on.
We need our politicians to show global leadership at COP.
Write to your MP (Find out who yours is here).
Here in Overton our MP is Kit Malthouse. You can email him (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell him what you think the government needs to do. It’s only by politicians knowing that people want change, that change will happen.
Not sure what to write? Here’s a sample letter provided by a member of Sustainable Overton - you can personalise it to focus on the issues you think are most important.
Dear Mr Malthouse,
The forthcoming COP26 negotiations will be of tremendous importance locally, nationally and globally.
(If you like, add a sentence explaining why you believe they are going to be important; what do you think will happen if the negotiations fail, or don’t go far enough?)
As my MP I would like you to use your influence with the Cop26 team to ensure that the strongest measures are adopted. (Perhaps add a couple of reasons why you think Kit should raise this. Is there a specific action you want him to take?) For example:
In particular the UK should pledge to:
Greatly increase renewable energy and associated infrastructure
Cut subsidies to fossil fuel companies and phase out the use of gas and oil as quickly as possible.
Introduce stringent planning regulations to ensure new buildings are carbon neutral.
Encourage the adoption of electric vehicles and of domestic heating by heat pumps.
Support and expand emissions trading schemes.
Select from the above list or add your own ideas. What are you personally most concerned about - is it the impact on nature, the impact on poorer nations & peoples, the impact on our health as pollution increases, or something else?)
Thank you for your help with this.
Add your address, including postcode (MPs need to know if you are a constituent).