So, the UN climate summit, COP26, has wrapped up for another year. In its wake, the media and campaigners have been picking over the outcomes.  

There were a few good things to come out of COP26. Acknowledgement by global leaders of the seriousness of climate change and the need for urgent action IS helpful. We saw the greater integration of the science into the text – the ‘Glasgow Pact’ included reference to the severity of impacts and risks to people. Quite a few things were agreed, such as the finalisation of details of the Paris Agreement and new language on loss and damage and fossil fuels. There was a slew of announcements with different groups of countries committing to different things such as the Global Methane Pledge. And countries will be revisiting their climate action plans at COP27 next year, instead of in five years’ time. The fact that the event was held in the UK has helped increase levels of interest and momentum in communities, businesses, individuals here.

In the aftermath of COP26 the number crunching is still going on, but it is already clear that the agreements made and pledges given in Glasgow are nowhere near fast enough, good enough, or strong enough. And that, despite the fact that emissions need to decrease by 45% by 2030 to keep global heating below 1.5 degrees, current pledges add up to an increase rather than a decrease by this key date. 

So where does COP26 leave Cumbria and our target of zero carbon emissions by 2037?  It makes even more crucial the work of CAfS and that of the many hundreds of community sustainability groups, businesses, schools and colleges, charities, service providers and local authorities that are all engaged in reducing carbon emissions. We have a chance to show what can be done when communities are placed at the heart of driving change.

We know where the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions come from in Cumbria, from the analysis of the county’s carbon emissions carried out for the Zero Carbon Cumbria Partnership, in the Carbon Baseline for Cumbria. This knowledge means our households, communities, businesses and organisations have the power in their hands to reduce the majority of Cumbria’s emissions, by making the changes that are under their control. Of course, government action and support will also be vital to enable some of the changes that are needed. 

We need to ensure all the action that’s already happening in Cumbria is showcased, highlighted, celebrated and brought to the attention of political leaders. We need to use our voices and insist on transparency and rapid action. We can each play a part in that – we are all influencers. We can all take steps in our own lives, and beyond that we can all put pressure on all people in positions of influence,  to take the critical and urgent action needed to drive and support the scale of change needed to protect the people and nature we care about for the future.