Over the coming months, the conversation around climate change is set to be hotting up. Why? Because this November is COP 26, a global conference of parties which sees our world leaders coming together to discuss the Nature and Climate Emergency.

Chances are, you may see a news article, social media post, or blog or two on the topic, and begin to wonder why this summit is so significant and what impact this has on you.

If you’re feeling a little unsure as to what all this means, don’t worry! Read on for the answers to the top five questions on everyone’s lips…

What is COP 26?

COP (Conference of Parties) 26 is a global United Nations summit about climate change and how countries are planning to tackle it. This year, it will be hosted in Glasgow (31 October - 12 November) and is already being described as the most significant climate event since the 2015 Paris Agreement. 

According to the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson; “securing a brighter future for our children and future generations requires countries to take urgent action at home and abroad to turn the tide on climate change. It is with ambition, courage and collaboration as we approach the crucial COP26 summit in the UK that we can seize this moment together, so we can recover cleaner, rebuild greener and restore our planet.”

Image: An "Act now before it's too late" sign is held at a climate rally. Credit: Ben Andrew, rspb-images.com

Why is this event so significant?

If Boris’ statement hasn’t convinced you, let us elaborate.

Now is a pivotal moment in the history of our planet, with two global summits, COP 26 and COP 15, (the accompanying biodiversity summit) happening in the next 12 months. 

World leaders must fix the Nature and Climate Emergency and keep the 1.5°C global warming target (as agreed in the 2015 Paris Agreement) alive in order to help tackle climate change. It is hoped that COP 26 will see new decisions made about how carbon emissions must be cut around the globe as a result.

What does this mean for the nature I love?

As our climate warms, it is not just people that are affected, but our much-loved wildlife and greenspaces too. One in ten UK species is at risk of extinction and over half of UK wildlife is in decline. In the future, climate change is expected to become an ever more dominant driver of change, meaning some of the wildlife you see today could be lost for good if we don’t act.

The recovery of nature isn’t just vital for its own sake – it can also help us tackle the climate crisis head-on. Many of our ecosystems hold the answer to locking in carbon and tackling the climate crisis, and in turn, the recovery of nature means that wonderful species and greenspaces can thrive again. We all win!

Image: A scene from RSPB Haweswater. Credit: Andy Hay, rspb-images.com

Take our work across blanket bogs in the uplands in England, including at RSPB Haweswater, Dove Stone and Geltsdale, for example. Working with our partners United Utilities at both Haweswater and Dove Stone, our staff and volunteers have been helping to restore peat bogs, a vital carbon store. In fact, the UK’s peatlands store around three times more carbon than our forests do.

Not only this, but by managing and improving the habitats, a variety of plants and wildlife have benefitted, including species such as curlew, golden plover and dunlin, as well as us humans, as peat holds and improves our water quality.

Image: A golden plover looks over the uplands. Credit: Andy Hay, rspb-images.com

What can I do? 

The race to Revive Our World is the fight that unites us all. By taking actions and showing that you’re doing your bit for nature and climate, together we can demand politicians to do more too. Help us to hold decision makers to account by collectively:

Helping to create more nature - We need the people in power to create better local spaces, for people, for climate, and for nature. From gardening with wildlife in mind and advocating for nature friendly farming, to adding your voice to campaigns calling for developers to consider wildlife and climate, creating more nature can start with you.

Image: A deer stands in a field in Northamptonshire. Credit: Colin Wilkinson, rspb-images.com

Join us in asking Government to ensure that the Oxford Cambridge Arc, a major new development affecting five counties in the east of England, makes protecting and restoring nature a priority within its plans. Simply head to the e-action before 12 October to have your views heard.

Shouting louder – Peat is a powerful source of carbon storage beneath our feet. Having taken thousands of years to form, peatlands across the UK store an estimated 3,200 million tonnes of carbon (CO2), yet this habitat is fragile and needs your help in protecting it.

By committing to buying peat free compost, we can help to keep this fragile habitat, and vital carbon store, from releasing CO2 back into the atmosphere and being destroyed. Pledge alongside us here at the RSPB to go peat-free and see our  #ForPeatsSake petition page to add you name

Image: A robin rests on plant pots beside peat free compost. Credit: Chris Gomersall, rspb-images.com

Coming together – Be inspired by campaigners across the country who are standing up for nature, climate and greenspaces that matter to them – from saving Swanscombe Marshes from the London Resort to calling for RSPB Minsmere nature reserve to be protected from EDF’s new nuclear power plant, Sizewell C.

Join forces with likeminded nature lovers across the country by attending events nationwide on the Global Day of Action (6 November) and help us to send a clear message to world leaders that the nation values nature and the benefits it brings. Encourage others to join the movement and unite under our common cause: reversing the Nature and Climate Emergency. 

To find out more about how you can get involved, visit: rspb.org.uk/myclimateaction and share how you’re standing up for nature and climate with #MyClimateAction.

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