Next month in Glasgow more than 200 world leaders will meet at the COP26 UN summit on climate change. Next week the Great Big Green Week organised by the Climate Coalition will highlight the vital importance of the conference – the most important since the Paris Agreement. The Climate Coalition includes a wide range of organisations from RSPB to the Women’s Institute, representing more than 22 million members. They believe that this is the decisive decade in the fight against climate change, a view certainly shared by other people who attended a recent Climate Change Service at Whitley Bay Baptist Church. The fear is that COP26 will fail to deliver the same ambitious agenda that led to the Paris Agreement and just turn into photo opportunities for the Prime Minister of the day to hug another husky.
This opportunity is too important to miss. The big polluters must be held to account. Developing countries must get financial help to play their part, a task made harder by the Government’s decision to slash the aid budget. Countries like the US, France and Germany have been ambitious in their commitment. Some big companies like Sage are committed to tough targets. Our Government must do the same when after the pandemic we build back greener. The PM’s flippant remark about shutting coal mines in the ‘80’s to show the way, caused offence but illustrated a serious point. Communities faced with economic challenges whether technological or environmental must be supported through transition and that requires a Government committed to action as well as pressure from outside.