UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021
What is COP26?
This is a global climate change summit, where world leaders will discuss and agree on the action required to tackle the climate emergency.
This year marks the 26th COP summit - hence COP26 - and it's taking place this November in Glasgow. It's crunch time for climate action and since the UK is hosting, the spotlight is now on the UK Government to provide global leadership, raise ambition and turn promises into the action so desperately needed to tackle the inseparable nature and climate crises.
What do we want to see at COP26?
COP26 is our chance to tackle the climate and nature crises together. Climate change is already contributing to nature's decline, whilst the loss of wildlife and habitats leaves us ill-equipped to reduce carbon emissions and adapt to climate change. Global leaders must take a stand and embed climate action and nature's recovery across their policies. Broadly, we need:
- A set of national policies from all countries to keep 1.5C within reach
This is critical to protecting the UK's natural environment from irreversible and catastrophic change.
The UK must lead the way at COP26 and demonstrate the right approach at home. The UK Government is currently not on track to adapt to climate change, or to achieve Net Zero emissions, yet the UK has to play its fair and historic share in tackling climate change that it is responsible for, and supporting developing nations cope with the effects of climate change that they have little historic responsibility for.
Agreement that nations will invest in high quality nature-based solutions (e.g. peatland and saltmarsh creation and restoration) that are developed in partnership with local communities to help mitigate against, and adapt to, climate change on a global scale.
What could these commitments look like at home?
So, what does this mean for the UK? All relevant national policies should be contributing to restoring nature, not degrading it. This means better protecting what we already have, and expanding it. The UK Government has set a target for 30% of land in recovery for nature by 2030, and Net Zero by 2050. To achieve these targets, here's what the Government must commit to:
- 30 by 30
Restore a minimum of 30% of UK land and sea for nature by 2030.
- Restore 100% of upland peat before 2050
And introduce an immediate ban on rotational burning, to give peat the best chance of surviving in hotter, drier conditions as the climate changes.
- Use the planning system to help address the climate crisis
Putting Nature Recovery Networks at the heart of the future planning system will address the crisis, whilst providing opportunities for people from all backgrounds to access wildlife-rich places in their communities.
- A legally binding State of Nature target to halt and reverse the decline of nature by 2030
This target in England's new Environment Bill should be supported by an additional £1 billion per annum investment in nature's recovery.
- UK agriculture significantly contributing to meeting the Government's targets
Government must support and incentivise sustainable land use practices through England's new Environmental Land Management (ELM) schemes.
- Better management of our seas
30% of all Marine Protected Areas should be designated as Highly Protected Marine Areas, with fishing policies and marine spatial planning contributing to protecting and enhancing blue carbon stores.