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SIGBI Day of Action – 17 July 2021

This year action, awareness raising and advocacy are of great significance. We need to raise our own profile but, more importantly, the issues around addressing climate change for succeeding generations as well as ourselves.

Although climate change is often on the news at present there seems to be little awareness that we, as individuals, can do a lot ourselves. This ranges from raising awareness of what we CAN do, to lobbying governments from local to national and to international and, of course taking action personally. “Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves”, but we need to help the pounds too.

Let’s start with ourselves – have you taken a look at the UN’s Carbon Footprint Calculator. I really need to do better – not travelling to New York each March for CSW might help since flying is 40% of my footprint (not during Covid of course), with electricity at 38%, food 15% and car 7%. This makes my annual emissions equal 17 tonnes whereas the UK average is 6t and the world at 5t. Less time on the computer would help with electricity! Removing the long haul flight to New York reduces my total consumption to 11t with electricity now being 58% of my total. The UN also provides a carbon offset scheme – these can be filtered for continent and country and covers Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean. Alternatively you could do so by supporting our programmes to address climate change – for trees see https://sigbi.org/soroptimistcentenary2021/a-brilliant/planting-trees-for-a-brilliant-future/4773-2/. Clearly our tree and mangrove planting, supporting Fairtrade, installing solar panels and using the UN campaign for individuals all – ACT NOW – will all contribute to our own commitments.

An alternative but less detailed calculator is ‘clever carbon’. This is less exhaustive but kinder to me at 8.3t – the UK average. Better but still a way to go. Lots of information and ideas from both sites.

Figure 1 UN ACT NOW for individuals https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/ActNow-action-guide.pdf

New research finds that consumer choices – such as purchasing an electric vehicle, retrofitting a house with energy-efficient technologies or installing a heat pump – are linked to more than 50% of the energy-related emissions reductions needed to get to net zero”. But can we affect climate change? Yes, of course we can – just look at the effect that the restrictions imposed during lockdown had on air pollution, for example. No, I am not advocating for the restrictions to last unnecessarily but it does show what can be done to help our planet and future generations and in a short timescale.

Is this all we can do? No! Restoring our ecosystems means protecting biodiversity – see APD Planet’s blog at the beginning of June. Essentially we are encouraged to green cities and road verges, re-wild gardens, clean up rivers and coastlines (litter picking, for example) and, of course, plant trees.

The changes affecting people include desertification, floods and increased risk of climate extremes, for example, all of which will lead to the need for people to move to places where they can live safely. Thus we can expect to see more migration with increased numbers of refugees and asylum seekers. Addressing climate change urgently can help people to remain in their homes and limit (or eliminate?) the increase in trafficking that we are seeing currently.

However, without business, finance and governments playing their roles we will not achieve what we want to for the future of our families and communities. The Conference of the Parties (COP26) is taking place in Glasgow 1-12 November 2021 and the UK Government is in the lead. They are stating:

“The presidency programme for COP26 will showcase momentum from the whole of society and focus on key issues to drive ambition and action. Progressing the negotiations will be at the heart of the summit.

Key cross-cutting elements such as science and inclusivity will be incorporated throughout, and we will ensure that a balance of mitigation, adaptation and finance runs through the whole COP26 programme.”

The programme is available at https://2nsbq1gn1rl23zol93eyrccj-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/COP26-Presidency-Programme.pdf and shows ‘Gender’, along with ‘Science and Innovation’ on November 9th. We need to ensure that gender features throughout the whole of COP26. That would help to ensure that the balance is fairer and equitable, delivering real progress for all. We need to ensure that COP26 delivers on the promise that:

“Key cross-cutting elements such as science and inclusivity will be incorporated throughout, and we will ensure that a balance of mitigation, adaptation and finance runs through the whole COP26 programme.”

Now is the time to lobby our governments to deliver on this ambition. Come and join us in this endeavour at https://sigbi.org/get-involved/membership/

Kay Richmond
SIGBI Programme Director