With COP26 under way, the eyes of the world have turned to Glasgow as political leaders try to thrash out further global agreements on mitigating climate change.
It is an inescapable truth that the environmental debate is, fundamentally, a political one. While some still hope the market will provide the answer to climate change, most now recognise that decarbonisation requires massive government intervention. The UK’s transition away from coal, for example, has been impressive. As recently as 1970 over half of our energy needs came from coal, but now the figure is below 2%. Meanwhile, almost half of the UK’s energy now comes from renewable sources, and the transition towards electric powered cars and hydrogen powered ships is well under way. All of it as a result of government intervention, funded by the tax payer.
That is why it is reasonable to expect government support for the agriculture sector’s shift towards a low carbon future – and the CLA has been working hard for decades to influence politicians, the public and - ultimately -government itself, to achieve that support.
But with COP26 now here, we are determined to tell our broader story, that landowners can provide answers to the big question of how to improve our environment. In the coming days our Deputy President Mark Tufnell will travel to Scotland to meet with US Department for Agriculture Thomas Vilsack, while CLA staff and members will participate in an official COP26 fringe event at Loch Lomond named Financing the UK’s Nature Recovery. This event focusses on Nature Based Solutions and is a soft launch for the Financing Nature Recovery report. This report comprises a strategic framework, recommendations, and roadmap with the aim to stimulate high integrity markets for nature.
We have already held several briefings for journalists across many national broadcasters and newspapers to ensure they understand the role land managers are playing in climate change mitigation and nature recovery. In the days ahead we will also release case studies, social media graphics and videos showcasing the work our members are doing – from peatland restoration to tree planting, from regenerative agriculture to the installation of renewable energy plants.
All this is leading up to our sold out annual Rural Business Conference on 2nd December, where chairman of the Committee on Climate Change Lord Deben, Secretary of State George Eustice and others will analyse the legacy of COP26, followed by presentations from CLA members who will share their own experiences. At our conference we will launch a new document filled with case studies designed to inspire our members who wish to undertake further climate change mitigation measures, while also highlighting to decision makers in Whitehall, Cardiff and beyond how CLA members are helping to make a real difference.
So keep an eye on our website and social media channels in the days ahead for more information.