Who are we and why are we here?
Hope Valley Climate Action is a group of over 600 local people who are concerned about, and want to do something about, the climate emergency. We were born at a packed out meeting at the Hathersage Memorial Hall in June 2019.
We are working to address the climate emergency by reducing carbon emissions, and reducing the impact of changes that are unavoidable. We do this in three ways: raising awareness of the climate emergency; taking action in our community; and advocating for the necessary policies at all levels.
Why are we here today?
You will all know that the all important UN COP26 climate talks are currently underway in Glasgow. It is no overstatement to say that the future of human civilization depends in large part on what is agreed, and most importantly, whether or not those agreements are then implemented. The goal, of course is to restrict global heating to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. As global temperature is already 1.1 degree above pre-industrial levels, and if things don’t change we will see a rise of between 3 and 4 degrees by the end of the century, this is not going to be easy. Commitments made to date to reduce GHGs will only restrict that rise to 2.7 degrees. There is much more that has to be done.
Across the world, today, many hundreds of thousands, quite possibly millions, of ordinary people are making their voices heard. We are demanding that politicians and policy makers recognise the nature of the emergency we face, and take the bold actions that are needed.
Here in the Hope Valley, it is important that we add our voices to those demands.
Hope Valley Climate Action has called specifically
For the United Kingdom representatives at COP to do four things:
Show bold and ambitious leadership
As the host for the COP, the UK has a particular responsibility to lead other participants to reach ambitious agreements. A restoration of the cuts to the overseas aid budget, to finance investment to address these issues in low income countries, would significantly help, not least by enhancing our credibility and status worldwide.
Determine scientifically based actions for all countries to take, set targets, and establish robust mechanisms for monitoring progress and holding countries to account.
The existing ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’ (NDCs) arising from the Paris agreement are estimated by the UN (2020 Emissions Gap Report) to lead to an increase in global average temperatures of at least 3 0C, and moreover depend on extensive use of negative emission technologies (carbon capture and storage), which are as yet unproven. Clearly, substantially more ambitious approaches are needed in order to close the gap to 1.50C.
Lead the way in contributing to the Global Climate Fund
Finance must be made available that is responsive to the needs of women, children, indigenous peoples, and other marginalized groups. The UK must also facilitate a constructive process to address past loss and damage, recognizing our historical responsibility for a large proportion of GHG emissions over the last two centuries. All financial support for fossil fuel extraction and use must cease, both at home and overseas.
Lead by example
UK leadership and credibility rests on taking the necessary actions for us to reach net zero as soon as possible. This must involve developing policies and providing the necessary resources to make the transition to clean energy and housing and transport (including active transport) that is net zero and fit for the future. It must include protecting and restoring nature, restoring peat and woodlands, in the UK through an ambitious Environment Bill with binding targets. Fossil fuel extraction must cease, and jobs must be created in the ‘green industries’ of the future, as part of a ‘just transition’.
Reasons for optimism
It is all too easy to be despondent, so let me suggest three reasons to be encouraged, three reasons to continue to campaign for the necessary dramatic actions to restrict GHG emissions.
First – the energy and commitment of the younger generation. School climate strikes, calling out the failures of their elders, my generation. Refusal to accept the status quo.
Second – the transformation in public discourse about the climate emergency. The way it is handled in the news media, in politics, in workplaces, in business. We have come a phenomenally long way in the last two years. There is a long way to go, but we must be encouraged by the changes that have happened.
Third – human ingenuity. Look at the way that vaccines were developed in response to the Covid pandemic.
By being here today, and by making your voices heard, you are helping to reinforce the message that more must be done to safeguard the wellbeing of future generations. Thank you.