COP26 Goal 2

Urgently adapt to protect communities and natural habitats.”

This goal concerns what we do about the effects of climate change that are already happening and how we plan for greater changes in the future. Some people are at immediate and severe risk, and there has already been loss of life and livelihood, but nobody will escape the impact.

What action is needed?

There are three target areas.

1) Protect human infrastructure

We need to plan for and invest in things like flood defence and early warning systems, as well as farming practices that do not create further problems.

Warwick floods 2020 – copyright J Nickels

2) Protect and restore habitats

Healthy habitats give protection against floods and landslides. Natural places have already been badly damaged by unsustainable farming, road and rail projects, mining, and waste, even though they are crucial to meet future climate challenges.

Warwick flood meadow ecosystem – copyright J Nickels

3) Communicate

All countries are being asked to make a summary of their plans and to share them, so that we can work together to address the impact of climate change as a global problem.

Is the UK doing anything?

The UK has produced the Adaptation Action Coalition (AAC) in partnership with Egypt, Bangladesh, Malawi, the Netherlands, Saint Lucia and the United Nations. It also has a steering committee which includes Columbia, Fiji, Ghana, Japan and the USA. 38 countries are members and membership is open to all UN member states and the EU.

What is the Adaptation Action Coalition for?

The Adaptation Action Coalition aims to push for action on climate risks. Their first focus, this year, will be on health, infrastructure and water.

Other items on the agenda are: adaptation in Africa; building resilient cities; using nature; managing disasters; youth leadership; local initiatives; food security; investment; economic recovery.

What does this mean for our local area?

The AAC calls for “increasing the volume of devolved and decentralised funding available to local governments, community-based organisations, and others working at the local level to identify, prioritise, implement, and monitor climate adaptation solutions.”

This means that there should be money for local governments and that they will be responsible for the decisions made about what is needed to adapt to the impacts of climate change in their own area.

We vote for our representatives on councils. The effectiveness of our response to climate risks will depend on their willingness to act on advice from experts, the needs of the community and their seriousness about the issues. Climate science denial within local government may be a hindrance.

The District of Warwick People’s Inquiry on Climate Change invited a random selection of local people to think about climate change. They were involved in producing a document of their priorities. Whilst it was mostly concerned with trying to reduce climate change, some of the recommendations relate to adapting to the impact.

Warwickshire Climate Alliance is currently drafting their own report into the impact of climate change in this region.

Warwickshire Climate Alliance

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

Until recently, we have mainly considered mitigation (reduction) of climate change. Action 21 and its supporters have helped in several ways. However, we do need to look at how we will deal with the impacts that are happening now and inevitable in the near future. As an organisation and as partner members of the Warwickshire Climate Alliance, we are likely to be increasingly involved with local government consultations and decisions.

Customers and supporters who are concerned about how the local government plans for the impact of climate change can make their views known through responding to inquiries on development, for example Warwick District Council’s consultation on their Net Zero Carbon Development Plan and through lobbying with organisations like Warwickshire Climate Alliance. All plans for the local area now need to be made with the impact of climate change in mind.