Written by David Gent, CEO, Active Humber
COP26 has finished and you may be wondering what it means for us as Active Partnerships.
Here are some ways that we as Active Partnerships have a role to play in the decisions made at COP26.
Changes in the way we all get around
Dozens of countries, regions and car companies have agreed to ramp up the use of electric vehicles and bring in new zero-emission buses and trucks. There was lots of campaigning that the planet needs less cars on the road and that walking, and cycling is critical to that change.
Active Partnerships action – redouble our efforts locally on influencing the Active Travel agenda
A switch to greener power
More than forty countries have signed up to phasing out coal. A similar number have committed to ensuring that clean energy is the most reliable and affordable option for powering our homes and businesses. For countries like the UK, this will mean continuing the move towards renewable sources such as wind and solar energy.
Active Partnerships action - Does your office and home run on a renewable source energy supplier?
Our homes get greener
There is a clear focus on making sure our buildings, infrastructure and communities can withstand the current and future impact of climate change.
This in part means improving green space in and around our homes to absorb extreme rainfall, check out the concept of aqua greens as an innovative way of using green spaces to ease flooding and encouraging people to use green spaces.
Active Partnerships action - Review our work around green open spaces and where we now need to focus locally.
We may start paying more for carbon
Our lifestyles and businesses contribute to carbon emissions, whether we are shopping, travelling, or enjoying our leisure. Everything has a carbon footprint. In future, we may see the cost of a product's carbon emissions being added to the price we pay.
All countries will now have to report emissions and progress every two years. It should give observers a clearer picture on whether nations are living up to their climate promises.
Active Partnerships action – Now is the time to work out our carbon footprint and start to proactively to reduce it. Have a go with this carbon footprint calculator - WWF carbon calculator
The final text from Glasgow makes a specific mention of the “important role” that “indigenous peoples, local communities, youth, children, local and regional governments and other stakeholders” play in tackling the climate crisis. Young climate activists staged multiple protests in Glasgow over the conference period.
Active Partnerships action – Revisit our equality and inclusion plans and programmes to ensure they take account of climate change. Better understand how climate change in our locality will affect the most vulnerable in our communities.
More space for nature
Nature's role in fighting climate change and the need to restore the natural world - from forests to peatland - was high on the agenda at Glasgow but ended up getting cut from the final agreement. While the first draft of the Cop26 emphasises “the critical importance of nature-based solutions”, the final agreement instead notes “the importance of protecting, conserving and restoring nature and ecosystems”.
Active Partnerships action – The arguments to make space for nature are now clearer and louder than ever and there is now renewed momentum about the need to protect our green spaces. What is our role in that?
Our pension and investments could be moving
More than four hundred financial institutions - controlling an estimated $130tn of private finance - agreed at COP26 to provide more money for green technology. It means that many major pension providers are going to be looking at investing your money in more environmentally friendly sectors.
Active Partnerships action – Is your bank and pension green or one of those contributing to maintaining fossil fuels, change for the better.
Countries ‘requested’ to set tougher 2030 climate plans
A crucial element of the new deal is a request for countries to “revisit and strengthen” their 2030 climate plans by the end of next year. Before this, countries were not expected to come back with new national climate plans until 2025. Countries’ current 2030 plans would result in 2.4C of global heating by 2100, far above the Paris aim of keeping temperatures below 2C with the aspiration of keeping them at 1.5C.
By inviting countries to submit new plans, the new pact has given fresh life to hopes the world can get on track to meet the 1.5C goal. However, there is no guarantee that countries will come forward with tougher climate plans by the end of 2022.
Active Partnerships action – Has your Active Partnership got a climate change plan that you are working proactively towards and perhaps set the timescale as the end of the 5-year Sport England funding cycle to Active Partnerships.
A change of thinking?
Whilst much was not agreed at COP26 the hope is that it did witness a global shift in our way of thinking even if the action was not there.
Now than ever before it is vital to galvanise community action. It is clear there will now be a sustained and intense pressure to scrutinise all governance decisions - from a local to national level.
Active Partnerships action – Do you have a published sustainability policy and action plan that can face external review?
Let the dinosaurs speak???
The drive to net zero will yield benefits such as cleaner air, quieter streets, and better mental and physical health and we all have a role in that. Delivering a just, net zero transition should ultimately result in happier, healthier lifestyles. The question should therefore be less about what will I lose under net zero and more about what could I gain?"
Look at this clip which makes that point better than I ever could.