How can SECA member groups gear up for COP26 in Glasgow this November and get behind the UN’s climate goals? In this article, Viviane Doussy lays out the challenge and issues a call for action to SECA members to think creatively about how they can take advantage of the focus and attention the summit will bring to the whole climate debate.
“Above all, you must come together for global collective action and ensure that this is not just another UN event that goes nowhere.”
These are the powerful words of youth ambassador, Lana Weidgenant, speaking recently at the launch of the UN dialogue of Forestry, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT), referring to the upcoming Conference of Parties (COP26) Summit in Glasgow in November 2021.
Why would anyone be sceptical about COP26? Just look at this graph called the Keeling Curve of global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. It reflects decades of laudable UN agreements taken up by governments all over the world; a massive effort in nations united at the respective Climate Change Conferences to pledge their commitments towards carbon reduction targets. Yet despite great intentions and with multilateral efforts, that red curve of the global CO2 levels keeps going up.
As a coalition of over 100 environmental, community and faith groups across the South East, all pushing for action on climate change, the South East Climate Alliance represents a sizeable constituency of committed people and organisations, with substantial combined campaigning and organising power. So how shall can SECA deploy this potential to help to turn the tables at COP26 on home soil in Glasgow?
A shared starting point
A starting point, perhaps, are these shared beliefs and goals that surely we can all agree on:
- the climate breakdown and ecological collapse is humanity’s single biggest issue
- the climate change conference COP26 is humanity’s single biggest event in 2021
- the unifying global goals of the United Nations is perhaps humanity’s single biggest hope
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals provide a framework for action, setting climate objectives alongside other key objectives around health, gender equality, poverty and other issues – many of which are closely interrelated. This diagram reinterprets the 17 SDG Goals using Kate Rayworth’s influential ‘Doughnut of Social and Planetary Boundaries’ model. You can learn more about the SDG Goals from the United Nation Association’s recent report Sustainable Development Goals: Transforming our World.
What ideas have you got?
We already know that a number of local green groups are starting to think creatively about what they can do in the run up to COP26. Ideas include:
- Talks, seminars and debates focusing on COP26 (e.g. Greening Steyning are hoping to team up with the Foreign Office’s Wilton Park Conference Centre to stage an online event later in the summer, and Rother Environmental Group have a talk scheduled for Sept)
- Street theatre and other drama or music events (e.g. we hear that Alton Climate Action and Seaford Environmental Alliance are thinking along these lines)
- Marches and demonstrations
- Engaging with local councils to challenge them to ‘ratchet up’ their climate targets, in the same way that the Paris process ask countries to step up their ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’ (NDCs) every five years – with COP26 being the first deadline for this.
- Local pledge schemes aimed at challenging businesses, churches, schools and other organisations, as well as individuals, to say what they are going to do to contribute to the UN climate goals
- Poster design competitions for schools
These are only some initial suggestions. Let us know what ideas you have in mind.
Bringing it all together
The SECA Steering Group is keen to catalyse as much action as possible in the run up to Glasgow, and plans to make COP26 a particular focus of our annual SECA gathering on June 19th. Details of this event will follow.
We also want to publicise what SECA member groups are planning and doing, and help put groups in touch so they can join forces. With this in mind, over the next month we aim to create an online form so groups can share their plans. The information that comes in will be collated and made available as a searchable list so groups can see what’s happening elsewhere and who to contact for further details. Highlights will also be flagged up in the monthly SECA newsletter.
In the meantime, please get in touch with me to let me know of any COP26-related plans you’re thinking of. You can email me at: SECA-COP26@outlook.com
A call to action
We have less than 10 years to meaningfully change direction to resolve the climate crisis. Our current trajectory is one of disaster and despair for humanity too dire to contemplate – so we need to heed this call to action!
Together, we can start making COP26 a the turning point in the history of mankind. We are the last generation given this final chance to effect a change in our CO2 levels, our planet’s temperature and thus our climate and weather patterns. Covid has galvanised more of us into action from decades of slumber.
What will success look like? The long term outcomes from COP26 in Glasgow will only become visible when that red squiggle of the Keeling Curve starts to plateau and trend downwards, heading in the ‘right’ direction at last. Let’s do what we can this year to make that happen!
Viviane Doussy is a SECA Steering Group member. She has volunteered to help collate SECA member group activities in the run up to COP26, and can be contacted at: SECA-COP26@outlook.com
To learn more about COP26 and why it matters, see this earlier blog article which provides a backgrounder on the event.