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So to sum up, was it a Fair COP26?



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Various politicians claimed Cop26 was a major step forward with countries signing up to important new environmental commitments, whilst sceptics highlighted the failures.

Commentators concluded the conference was ‘neither a triumph or a train wreck’.

In terms of taking action that will prevent the world warming to temperatures 1.5⁰C above pre-industrial temperatures – nobody seems to believe the decisions made at Cop26 will achieve that goal.

Giki is a carbon footprint calculator.
Giki is a carbon footprint calculator.

The general scientific consensus seems to be that we are on course for an average rise in temperatures of 1.8-2.8C by the end of this century.

This doesn’t sound like a big rise to many people. But consider it means sea levels rising so that millions of people become homeless; ‘killer’ heatwaves with temperatures of 40-50C becoming a norm in large parts of the world; agriculture and fisheries becoming unsustainable; natural ecosystems like reefs, ice caps and forests disappearing... It is already happening and average global temperature have as yet only risen by 1-1.2C!

Clearly governments – and all of us – need to make further commitments. And putting off action until 2050 and beyond is simply not good enough. That will almost certainly leave our children and grandchildren with global problems that are impossible to resolve. It is simply not fair on future generations.

What can we do about it in West Norfolk? Coastal communities and landscapes will be affected. We must decide which coastal environments can be protected and mitigate the inevitable changes to others. Importantly we need to decide how to protect Lynn and other coastal settlements from a likely 0.5m rise in sea-level.

I am confident that East Anglian agriculture can and will play a big role in sequestering carbon and ensuring sustainable food supply. Some Norfolk farmers are already showing how it may be done. But 5 years after we decided to leave the EU there is still little clarity on the replacement of EU subsidies. This needs to be resolved quickly with sustainable land management and food production at the heart of clear new policy.

Making our building stock more energy efficient is a huge challenge. Ensuring that all new and refurbished buildings meet necessary standards seems obvious and could be ensured immediately with tighter building regulations. But upgrading existing substandard buildings and homes is unlikely to happen without a long-term programme of Government grants and incentives. Such a programme must also ensure the training and support of the local tradespeople who can deliver the work.

Shifting to a ‘multi-modal’ transport system could also happen quickly with appropriate investment. We need to commit to rolling out a local cycle network like they are already doing in parts of Cambridgeshire. Even with electric vehicles, more and more road building will not deliver a low-carbon transport system. Railway links to Hunstanton, Norwich and Peterborough could allow a lot of people to live without a car and allow us to rethink future settlement planning.

Lastly – we all need to commit to changes that will reduce our own carbon footprints. At Cop26, much was made of India and Brazil not committing to new agreements, but the per capita carbon footprint of Indians and Brazilians is still less than half that of UK citizens.

These articles have suggested we can all look at our own domestic arrangements and strive to reduce food waste, eat less meat, create gardens that store carbon, and reduce our general waste stream. We can also work on reducing household energy use, driving less, walking and cycling more and being environment-conscious consumers – including considering the services and investments we buy. It can all help to protect the world for future generations!

And remember to try out the GIKI carbon footprint calculator to reduce your own household footprint. https://giki.earth/



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