If you’re anything like us, you are probably feeling pretty helpless right now, in the face of what has been billed “humanity’s last best hope”. That is unless you are a high-level diplomat or scientist currently attending COP26. In which case: fight the good fight! We’re relying on you!
For everyone else, take a deep breath. It might seem like the last few weeks have brought one bit of bad news after another, from China’s President Xi Jinping not attending in person to Saudi Arabia saying it will not cut its emissions to net zero until 2060.
The first thing to remember is that all the negative news is a way of getting any result to look great. Boris Johnson in particular has seemed to downplay the chances of success in recent weeks. That could be because he wants to be able to say that he succeeded against all the odds. Or it could be a negotiating tactic; a way of pushing countries to committing to the deepest cuts of emissions possible. Either way, it’s speculation as opposed to fact. So, let’s not start catastrophising about the impact of COP26 before it’s over.
The second thing to remember is that COP26 is not the only chance we have to turn around the crisis. Other organisations are also working on the problem: like the OECD, which is currently working on a global plan for carbon prices.
The final thing to remember is our motto here at Green Pages: you can always do something! It might seem like a small step, but remember the famous quote on the Berlin Wall: “Many small people, who in many small places do many small things, can alter the face of the world.”
So, what can you do?
- Take the opportunity to talk to friends and family about some of the steps you’re taking to reduce your carbon footprint. Having conversations is an important way of spreading the word about the action we need to take for the planet. ClientEarth has a great free guide to having climate change conversations that you can download from their website.
- Get involved in some local action. Check out the COP26 Coalition’s website for information about actions planned during the conference. Or join an organisation that is going to campaign beyond COP26. In Cambridge, CCF organises Eco Open Home tours and works with companies and individuals to get them to sign up to the Cambridge Climate Change Charter.
- Donate money to organisations who campaign to put climate change at the heart of government policies: the big ones are Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace. But there are plenty of other smaller organisations out there doing great work in the UK, like the alliance of organisations and individuals working to get parliament to pass the CEE bill.
- Take steps to reduce your own carbon footprint. Making changes to your own life is both the easiest and hardest challenge to take on. The Energy Saving Trust has a lot of really helpful tips. Check out our directory (still a work in progress!) for low/zero waste businesses. Keep an eye on this blog for helpful suggestions about action you can take.
- Talk to your company or organisation about its plans to reduce emissions. In Cambridge, CCF has tools to support organisations and companies with decarbonising.
- Become a clicktivist. Join an organisation like 350.org which will send you emails about petitions to sign and emails to send to your local MP.
The most important thing is to be inspired to do something. As Greta Thunberg says: “1.7 degrees is better than 1.9 degrees which is better than 3 degrees.”