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Crunch Time for the Climate

From Ellie Chowns (Hereford Times Talking Point 28 Oct 2021)

Next week the UK will host the crucial ‘COP 26’ climate meeting in Glasgow.  People all over the world will be hoping and praying that political leaders put their differences aside and find common ground.  After all, climate change is a shared global crisis and a shared global responsibility.

Here in Herefordshire we know how important it is to live in balance with nature. We all want future generations to inherit a beautiful and healthy world.  We actively work to protect and restore our rivers, soils, trees and wildlife.  We know that we need to look after the natural world.

Climate change is something that binds everyone together. We all share one planet, so we need to share responsibility for fixing the problem.

I serve on Herefordshire Council, and we’re playing our part. We’ve recognised the scale and urgency of the climate crisis, and we’re on track to be zero carbon by 2030.  For example, we’re making sure that all the new homes and schools we build are incredibly energy efficient.  

We’ve set up an independent Climate and Nature Partnership.  And we’ll be running a Citizens’ Climate Assembly in January, involving Herefordians from all walks of life in deciding policies and priorities for climate action.

We need the same level of commitment from national and global leaders, too.

The UK government recently announced more targets, but still nowhere near enough funding. The money they allocated to heat pumps last week is only 5% of what’s needed to meet their own target.  And there’s still almost nothing for home insulation.

It could be so different.  With proper government funding, a local-authority-led home insulation scheme could slash household bills and eliminate fuel poverty.  At the same time, it would create many tens of thousands of decent, stable, well-paid, high-skill jobs across the country.  That is the sort of commitment we need from the UK government.

So: COP 26 is crunch time for the climate. We need to make sure that political leaders hear our voices, and feel the weight of responsibility.  We need them to find common ground, to be brave, to think beyond self-interest and to do the right thing for future generations. We all need COP 26 to be a success.

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