COP26 Goal 1

Secure global net zero and keep 1.5 degrees within reach.”

At the moment, the world is nowhere near on track to meet this target.

Why is ‘Global Net Zero’ important?

Net zero means we need to not increase the total greenhouse gas we put out. If we continue as we are doing now, global average temperatures are predicted to rise to well above 3º C by 2100. To stay below 2º C, we need to cut emissions by half before 2030 and go to net zero by 2050. This means that countries have to stop burning fossil fuels for transport, energy and manufacturing, and restore and protect natural habitats.

What happens if we don’t do it?

We are already seeing the effects of global warming. The hotter the Earth gets, the more extreme these will be. (more detail from NASA). The report from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) gained some publicity this week (August 2021). It makes for alarming reading. It confirms that we can see the impacts of climate change now and that they will worsen. Even if we keep below 2º C, we can expect more of the following:

  • Temperature extremes
  • Too much and too little rainfall (floods and droughts)
  • Loss of rain-forest
  • Sea level rise and coastal erosion
  • Ecosystem collapse (plants and animals do not survive)
  • Increased human migration

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What are the targets?

Countries are being asked for three actions to try to keep to 1.5º

  1. Move to clean power
  2. Protect and restore nature
  3. Use zero carbon transport

How does it affect us locally?

Floods at Offchurch, Dec 2020 (copyright J Nickels)

Here in Warwickshire we can expect extreme weather events such as those experienced in Northern Europe this summer (2021). We should prepare for extra heavy rainfall, floods, excessive heat and droughts affecting businesses, residents and farmers. We will also experience the effects of people having to move within the county and from other areas of the UK and the world.

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What is being done in Warwickshire?

Warwick District Council declared a climate emergency in 2020 and produced a Climate Emergency Plan in which they aim to be a ‘net zero carbon organisation by 2025 and to facilitate reducing the District’s carbon emissions as close to zero by 2030’. They hope to tackle energy in homes and businesses and help people to travel sustainably.

Warwickshire County Council does not have a document specifically outlining their Climate Emergency Plan. Proposals are included within The Council Plan 2020-2025 and other documents on sustainability.

Warwickshire Climate Alliance is an umbrella organisation pushing for stronger local action on the climate emergency. They are lobbying local government to be serious about moving to net zero greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible. Action 21 is one of their partner groups.

How do Action 21 and its supporters play their part in this first goal?

Bikes at Re-Useful Centre (copyright J Nickels)

Warwick and Leamington Action 21 was set up in response to Agenda 21 from the first Earth Summit in Rio (nearly three decades ago in 1992!) and aimed to increase sustainable practices in the local area. You can read more about what Agenda 21 means in our blog here.

We address the COP26 first goal in these ways:

  • re-use, reducing emissions involved in manufacturing new items
  • saving natural environments by diverting many tons from landfill
  • promotion of zero carbon transport through the sale of low-cost, second hand bicycles (on a personal level, all 3 managers and a number of volunteers get to work without burning fossil fuels, and the location of the Re-Useful Centre makes it convenient for pedestrians and cyclists)

An explanation of the 2nd goal has now been published here.