Why COP26 matters and what we can do about it

Jenny Edwards from Enfield Climate Action Forum on why COP26 in Glasgow really matters

A 'Fridays for Future' protest in Germany calling for global temperatures to be kept below a rise of 1.5C (credit Mika Baumeister via Unsplash)
A ‘Fridays for Future’ protest in Germany calling for global temperatures to be kept below a rise of 1.5°C (credit Mika Baumeister via Unsplash)

When William Shatner arrived back on Earth after his brief flight into space, he warned us that we can’t keep “burying our heads in the sand” about global warming.

Shatner said: “I was moved to tears by what I saw, and I come back […] overwhelmed by sadness and empathy for this beautiful thing we call Earth. I wish I could bring a message of lightness to leaven the terrible news […] but we’re at a tipping point.”

The COP26 global conference in Glasgow, which starts on Sunday 31st October and involves representatives of 197 countries, has been described as “our last best chance” to turn back from a series of irreversible tipping points for the Earth. This is a chance to look at our (underwhelming) progress towards actions to limit the global rise in temperature to 2°C – ideally 1.5°C – agreed at COP21 in Paris six years ago.

The average global temperature rise has already reached 1.3°C and this year we have witnessed how even this level of warming has destabilised climate patterns, causing a year of record-setting fires and floods.

We have to achieve a 45% cut in emissions by the end of this decade to have any hope of meeting the 1.5°C goal. When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Chance (IPCC) released its latest scientific report in September the head of the United Nations described it as a “code red” warning for humanity. When analysing countries’ current carbon emissions trajectories, it found they were on course to increase by 16% by 2030 when compared with 2010 levels.

We cannot continue moving at the current snail’s pace. We are acting like the proverbial frog sat in water that is heating, complacently immobile as it rises to a lethal boiling point. While there are many changes to our lives we can make which help create the ground for policy change, it is governments now who have to frame the policy and investment changes needed. Governments have shown that they will only respond if there is a groundswell of public interest and pressure.

Saturday 6th November has been declared a ‘Global Day of Action’ to show that people want to see real, effective agreements and actions coming from this meeting of world leaders. Of course, there will be a major gathering of people of the streets of Glasgow, but in London there will also be a march starting from the Bank of England at 11am. Enfield Climate Action Forum (EnCAF), which brings together 115 organisations across the borough, will be gathering behind our EnCAF banners.

Whatever concerns you about the environmental risks we face, you are most welcome to join the Enfield contingent on the march. Our suggested meeting place is in Ironmonger Lane in EC2 at 10.30am. Let your voice be heard as world leaders hold the fate of our beautiful Earth in their hands!

For more information about EnCAF:
Visit encaf.org