In this blog, ACEVO’s policy officer Maisie Hulbert gathers recent tools, resources and initiatives to support civil society leaders take an ambitious role in tackling climate breakdown.
Firstly, a quick roundup on our view of COP. On the detail (some of which I outline below) I was very much led by other expert organisations across the sector, but on climate leadership, I wanted to see more from COP and was disappointed. I met with the ACEVO climate crisis member working group the week after the COP who reiterated that strong, inspiring climate leadership has never been more vital. At ACEVO we believe in inclusive, ambitious and inspiring leadership, which is values-driven and honest about the scale and challenges of problems. Unfortunately, this was not the kind of leadership we saw at COP26. Instead, we saw leaders of the wealthiest nations prioritise their own economic interests first and treat an issue that requires urgent attention as something that can be dealt with further down the line. Civil society organisations, representing groups who will be most impacted by climate breakdown, were excluded from negotiations. While we have heard that many charities who attended COP had some positive conversations, the commitments made do not go far enough, fast enough.
The climate crisis is a crisis and requires leadership that considers the needs of those who will be hit hardest. Charity leaders have an opportunity now to model this leadership, as they have done throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. I do still see it as an opportunity, rather than a distraction or another weighty responsibility. There is work to do to future proof the amazing work our members do, and this can be part of those changes. But I also understand that it’s hard, that other priorities come up, and that taking the first step can be the most difficult part.
I would encourage every leader to consider how the climate crisis touches their services, mission, values and community. Acting now and doing something – however small that something is – can unblock fear and apathy within teams and inspire fresh thinking about the services we deliver and the ways we work. Charity leaders seek a better world, and we must harness the renewed sense of urgency that has come out of COP to find a world that can be better for the communities and places that most need to see change.
So on to some views on COP26 and the outcomes from across the sector, and key areas where further influencing will be needed to bring about the change communities across the world need to see:
- Friends of the Earth
- Christian Aid
- Save the Children
- Civil Society article highlighting key organisational responses
The UK retains the COP presidency until 2022. During that time, there is an opportunity to drive action on the following priorities and hand over with firmer, more ambitious commitments to action:
- Ensure countries deliver stronger national plans to keep 1.5°C alive
- Secure more ambitious climate finance commitments
- Press for finance for climate-related loss & damage
- Lead on drawing the fossil fuel era to a close and a just transition to renewables
If you want to support some calls to action, take a look at this opportunity to send a Christmas card to the PM asking him to prioritise these issues in the remaining months.
My favourite resource this month is Going Green Together, a fantastic collection of resources formed by the VONNE Climate Action Alliance. Although it is focused on the North East these resources are helpful for any charity looking to take action. You can browse via the ‘Act’ section different ways of changing practice, and see examples of charities who have taken steps in these spaces, as well as the opportunity to attend monthly meets and share learning and progress. There are also some great case studies by the North East England Climate Coalition.
And as we are coming to the end of the year and I would like to kick off 2022 with some good news, we really want to share positive stories about the work civil society organisations are doing to support a greener sector. We have an open call for case studies – whatever action you have taken, small or large, why not fill in the form, or contact me directly for a short phone chat and I will write up your submission for you? This is an opportunity to share how you have acted, what has been challenging, and what has been most successful. I really hope that sharing stories in this way can motivate leaders to act and drive climate action across charities, so we are ahead of the curve as the world continues to change.
As always, if you have any questions, additions or ideas – please get in touch! I would love to hear from you. In the meantime, I hope everyone has a restful winter break and I will resume these regular blogs in 2022.