Our Policy Officer Kate Willshaw and our Patron Amy Bray were part of a CPRE delegation that attended COP26 in Glasgow, the global United Nations summit about the climate emergency and how countries are planning to tackle it, to highlight rural issues.

Maddy Haugton-Boakes, CPRE Campaigns Manager, participated in a BBC Breakfast interview highlighting the need for urgent action and rural solutions. Watch the interview here.

When in Glasgow the team of volunteers and staff from Friends of the Lake District and CPRE attended the Green Fringe where there were exhibitions on ‘green’ sustainable solutions and events. The team was there to learn more and raise awareness of problems for rural areas and nature based solutions.

A particularly important event was a panel discussion by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Strengthening Parliamentary Consensus for Global Change, chaired by Bim Afolami MP with Alex Sobel MP, Anna McMorrin MP, Anthony Browne MP, Baroness Helene Hayman (Peers for the Planet Co-Chair), Ed Davey MP, and Philip Dunne MP.

Our team put questions to the panel about the need to increase insulation to reduce fuel poverty and ill health as well as reduce carbon emissions; and consideration of the carbon impacts of proposed development in the planning system. Currently, our National Planning Policy Framework does not require the carbon lifecycle of development to be considered and it has resulted in unsustainable development that has caused an ecological collapse and natural capital degradation.

The panel agreed with us and extended colleagues an invitation to engage in the forthcoming planning reforms, and the House of Lords Inquiry on onshore windfarms.

The vital role of civil society in maintaining public pressure for socially responsible change was identified as key by the Panel members and they congratulated CPRE and other environmental charities for the good work they have done. Since the Paris Agreement of 2015, public opinion on the climate emergency is much clearer and people are ahead of Government in terms of what actions are required and how quickly they are needed to be implemented. We need to be Carbon Zero without delay.

To keep our reputation intact, the team travelled to COP-26 by train, and Hostelling Scotland provided cheap, green and clean accommodation. We made banners from recycled materials and used catchy slogans such as ‘Bleat for Peat’, ‘There is Another Way’, ‘March now, swim later’, ‘Keep Coal in the Hole’, ‘Honk for Hedgerows’ and ‘Plan 4 Nature Now!’

Attending the March on 6th November was valuable. Despite the wind and horizontal rain, hundreds of thousands of people attended from all backgrounds. Hundreds of thousands more attended marches and rallies in London, Manchester, Liverpool, and right across the world. It was useful for CPRE to be visible to so many people who care for the environment and value the countryside and many of the marchers stopped to talk with us. It was heartening to see so many anti-coal mine banners and posters carried by people, none of them wanted to see the Whitehaven coal mine opened.

We teamed up with our Patron Amy Bray, who in 2019 set up a charity called Another Way based on her passion for our beautiful planet and especially the oceans she loves devotedly. Amy, a young rising star in the world of conservation and climate campaigning was interviewed by Good Morning Britain last week, and in addition told us how she thought the Global Day of Action protest in Glasgow had gone (Video).

The delegation found attending COP-26 was inspiring enabling a better understanding of issues surrounding equality and social justice from talking to people about the key issues, solutions, and priorities.

It is so important that Friends of the Lake District and CPRE are involved in these arguments and continue to promote sustainable solutions, attend relevant events, and partner with others to persuade the people in power that the climate emergency is the most pressing issue of the day that most threatens our rural areas.

Why we’re concerned about Climate Change

Friends of the Lake District agrees that the climate emergency poses the greatest threat to the countryside. Scientists have shown that the Earth’s average temperature is warming much faster than it naturally should be with devastating impacts on the environment across the world, including on our rural Cumbrian areas with severe flooding, collapse of many species and problems for many communities.

The ecological emergency is also linked into the climate emergency. Hundreds of thousands of different species of animals and plants are facing extinction because of human activity.

Human activity, particularly the burning of fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas), which release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and trap heat from the sun, warming the Earth is the cause of the climate crisis. We need to stop using fossil fuels and instead use cleaner renewable energy sources (hydro, off shore-wind and roof mounted solar).

See graph from the Climate Change Committee’s latest report. www.theccc.org.uk

The Government’s high growth agenda has resulted in rapid urbanisation and increased car dependency with harm to our countryside. Significant loss of greenspace, woodland, trees and hedgerows, which absorb carbon dioxide but release it when developed has also contributed to climate change.

CPRE has shown the high level of growth that the Government promotes is unnecessary. We urge for the reuse brownfield land in existing urban places to be a priority and to promote sustainable development based on walking, cycling and public transport networks.