What will 2021 hold for climate action? COP26 – the UN Climate Conference – will be held in Glasgow in November. The conference was planned for 2020, and five years on from the Paris Agreement, countries are expected to rachet up their ‘nationally determined contributions’ – how much they intend to reduce their carbon emissions by 2030.
Ambitious targets have recently been announced by the UK who have committed to reduce emissions by 68% (compared to 1990) and the EU who have committed to 55% reductions. But to keep temperature rises below 1.5 degrees, India, China and the US will need to make big new commitments. This looks difficult, but perhaps more likely now with the new Biden administration, particularly given the appointment of John Kerry as climate envoy and the prospects of a more collaborative approach.
From the UK perspective, a target emissions reduction of 68% is good (though less than the 75% reduction that green groups were calling for). But does the Johnson government have the policies to deliver it? The general consensus from the climate community is no. But the months leading up to the COP26 summit are the time when maximum leverage over policy is possible. Green groups and others will press for more money and powers for local authorities to deliver their climate action plans, a switch in investment from roads to bike lanes, a rethink of proposed planning changes so we don’t build more car-dependent new developments and more action to skill up the building profession to achieve home retrofit targets.
This is the big picture – what should we as Muswell Hill Sustainability Group be doing in 2021? One of the significant changes in 2020 is that we are all spending more time in the communities where we live. We’re buying more from our local shops, visiting parks and woods more often, and are in closer contact with our neighbours. This provides real opportunities to make long term reductions to our carbon emissions and waste.
It makes sense for Muswell Hill Sustainability Group to work more closely with Muswell Business, our local traders group. to make the Broadway an even more attractive place to shop, and to help traders to reduce their own emissions. We could help the council to think differently about parks – perhaps allowing more wild areas, or space for community food growing. And we can talk to our neighbours about what they can do to reduce emissions from their houses, travel and food.
In February, MHSG will be holding open meetings to discuss our strategy for the next couple of years, aided by Paul Bragman, local low carbon living enthusiast and brilliant facilitator. We’re looking for good ideas and people to deliver them. Please do join us – more details to follow.
In the meantime, we’re looking forward to welcoming Prof Paul Ekins from UCL on 19th January (By Zoom of course) who will be answering all your questions about the Prime Minister’s 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution. You can register here.
Finally, as winter bites and our community continues to suffer the terrible consequences of the pandemic, we’d encourage you to support the local Muswell Hill food bank – by delivering supplies directly or you can donate money to them here.