The UN climate summit is uniting causes – and showing that the solutions we need to find are as interconnected as the challenges we face.
As world leaders debate next steps at COP26 in Glasgow, ethical organisations around the globe are watching – and waiting. Whether their remit is aid and development, nature and the environment, or sustainability, they share the Queen’s view that there’s been enough talk: it’s time for action. And COP26, despite its notable refuseniks, is our best opportunity to accelerate it.
During the run-up to the conference, our clients have been mobilising their audiences to put the heat on world leaders. It’s been fascinating to see how their different perspectives and approaches could contribute to a joined-up solution.
For Christian Aid, the climate crisis is a social justice issue, deepening existing inequality: they want COP26 leaders to prioritise the needs of people in poorer countries, currently facing the worst impacts of climate-related disasters. True ‘climate justice’ will not only involve a shift from fossil fuels to clean energy, but also financial support and debt cancellation for the worst-hit countries.
Their eye-catching campaigns on social have engaged people with a choice of ways to take meaningful action – from signing a petition or joining nationwide marches, to making a paper ‘prayer boat’ for a ‘Climate Justice fleet’ to send to Glasgow.
At Earthwatch, too, the emphasis is on building a movement of people to take practical action. The charity, which empowers members of the public to volunteer as ‘citizen scientists’ in their local communities, plans to create 8 ‘Wee Forests’ around Glasgow as a living legacy of COP26. These tennis-court sized mini woodlands, each capable of attracting 500 flora and fauna species within 3 years, will engage young and old with nature conservation.
For Prevented Ocean Plastic, an organisation which collects plastic bottles from Britain’s seashores and turns them into recycled plastic packaging, COP26 presents a real opportunity to inspire people to complete the cycle by choosing recycled plastic products when they shop. Frustrated by Boris Johnson’s suggestion that recycling is a ‘red herring’, founder Raffi Schieir responded with an open letter to the PM emphasising that we can all control the plastic that goes into our homes – thus reducing the demand for single-use plastic.
It’s a privilege to work with organisations like this, who understand the different and complex ways in which their cause is connected to the climate crisis. But it’s also a clear reminder that there is no single, simple solution to climate change.
So while it’s tempting to hope that a bunch of world leaders will ‘solve it’ this month, the truth is that it will take all of us to join the dots. And by connecting with organisations that share our values, each of us can be empowered to play our part.
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