COP26 Glasgow, November 2020

Photo by Andreas Chu on Unsplash

Photo by Andreas Chu on Unsplash

In November 2020, Glasgow will host COP26 - the latest round of international climate talks, billed to place nature-based solutions at the heart of climate policy. We are all looking to COP26 to set the pace for leadership on the climate and nature emergency, especially in relation to food, farming and land use.

As the UK Government says, "The climate talks will be the biggest international summit the UK has ever hosted; bringing together over 30,000 delegates including heads of state, climate experts and campaigners to agree coordinated action to tackle climate change."

The UK has an opportunity to demonstrate global leadership as it hosts the COP26 this year. The food system is the single biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and is the single biggest cause of biodiversity loss and ecosystem decline in the UK and globally, and has become an increasing focus of discussion.

Food was not a major element in the first round of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which are the documents that set out how each participating government is proposing to meet its greenhouse gas emissions reduction target under the all-important Paris Agreement, and in what timeframe. The greater ambition now required to maintain global warming to 1.5 degrees must now encompass action to constrain emissions from food and agriculture. Nature-based solutions, the focus for COP26, are especially important in food, farming, fisheries and land use.

Sustain and many of our alliance members are planning activities either in the run-up to COP26, during the event itself, and working to achieve a lasting legacy. Many are also seeing COP26 as a milestone; the start of the necessary and era-defining 10-year transition to a low-carbon, agro-ecological, biodiverse future. Get in touch if you'd like to be involved. Some examples of activities are below.

  • Several leading environmental groups have written to the new UK President of COP26 Alok Sharma MP, urging him to include food in the UK's NDC for COP26. The letter was coordinated and supported by Nourish Scotland and Sustain.
  • Nourish Scotland is leading on an initiative, supported by Sustain, to win declarations on integrated food policies to tackle climate change and deliver co-benefits for health and environment. Nourish will be focusing on sub-state actors and working with UK and international city networks to demonstrate grassroots leadership and call for national and international policy change.
  • Land Workers Alliance is working with Nourish, Via Campesina and others to foster dialogue and participation at Glasgow's COP26 involving agro-ecological farming and peasant unions. The aim is to press governments to consider food and farming issues; and to win a seat at the table at the UN Food Systems Summit 2021, as well as higher profile for food at COP27.
  • Green Alliance launched their net zero policy tracker which will be used throughout 2020 to monitor government climate action in advance of the COP26 climate conference in November. They are convening events and policy work on key environmental issues. 
  • Several campaigns and student groups are planning protests and citizen mobilisation.

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Climate Change and Nature

Sustain has taken a keen interest in the rapidly accumulating evidence about the effect of food and farming on climate change and nature, as scientific evidence emerges that our food system is a very significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss.

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Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.

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