US Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi spoke at one of yesterday’s panel sessions, alongside First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, to discuss advancing gender equality in climate action. Yesterday’s COP26 also had a visit from Little Amal.
COP26 President Alok Sharma and UK International Champion on Adaptation and Resilience Anne-Marie Trevelyan hosted the Gender Day event. The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, was among other high profile speakers to address the event.
Pelosi, explaining that the majority of people displaced by climate change are women, said that global warming “is a threat multiplier, amplifying and accelerating existing inequities in our economies and societies.”
Sturgeon concurred, saying “we need to make sure that the experiences of women and girls across the world, who are so often disproportionately impacted by climate change, are understood as we devise the solutions. We must make sure that the voices of women are at the centre of creating and implementing the solutions to climate change."
Other countries set out gender and climate commitments by announcing funding for gender equality, for example:
- The UK set out how £165 million in funding will address the dual challenges of gender inequality and climate change.
- Canada aims to ensure that 80% of its $5.3 billion climate investments over the next five years target gender equality outcomes.
- Germany announced a new Gender Strategy under its International Climate Initiative (IKI) which will promote gender-transformative approaches in international climate and biodiversity cooperation.
The day was also attended by Little Amal; a puppet which depicts a 10-year-old Syrian refugee, who is travelling 8,000km in support of refugees and will walk across countries including Turkey, France, Germany and the UK.
On Science & Innovation, 47 countries have committed to building health systems which are able to withstand the impacts of climate change and which are low carbon and sustainable. Health services are currently a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for around 4.6% of the worldwide total, meaning if they were one country, health systems would be the fifth-largest emitter. The health and social care secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “As a health community, we cannot simply sit on the sidelines - we must respond to climate change through urgent action, with global collaboration at its core.” Sir Patrick Vallance also claimed climate change is a "bigger problem" than COVID-19, telling the BBC this is because of its "overall effect on humanity".
Yesterday also saw the release of the first major assessment of commitments at the summit by The Climate Action Tracker (CAT), the world’s most respected climate analysis coalition. The report estimates that even with the pledges made in Glasgow, global greenhouse gas emissions in 2030 will still be around twice as high as the globally agreed 1.5C target for warming. The analysis predicts that temperature rises will top 2.4C by the end of this century, based on the short-term goals countries have set out at COP26. Niklas Höhne, an author of the report, said: “countries’ long-term intentions are good, but their short-term implementation is inadequate.”
UKUPC Member Focus
Today’s member focus is on Cardiff University. Professor Mike Bruford, Dean for Environmental Sustainability said "COP26 is a pivotal event in which the world is confronting its last opportunity to deal with the catastrophic effects of climate change.
"At Cardiff University, we provide the much-needed evidence on the current state of the world’s climate, its impacts on humanity and biodiversity and the ways we can navigate away from a future none of us want. We hope and expect that politicians have the courage to confront the realities we identify and take the action needed to protect the planet with the urgency required."
In November 2019, Cardiff University declared a climate emergency and announced their aim to become carbon neutral for our direct energy consumption by 2030.
Working alongside the Welsh Government’s targets, Cardiff targets shifting the economy away from fossil fuels and make the public sector carbon-neutral by 2030, as well as the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, which aims to make Wales more resilient and globally responsible and provide a more sustainable future for our current and future students.
The University’s Environmental Sustainability Enabling Strategy, recast last year in light of COVID-19, set out its vision towards building an inclusive, sustainable, and resilient future for our community and aims to bring about environmental benefits not only to Cardiff and Wales but to the wider world.
Professor Bruford writes:
“There are many projects ongoing which are feeding into this strategy.
One goal is to make our campus carbon neutral. We are considering sustainability as we construct new buildings and investigating how our older buildings can be improved, navigating constraints such as planning regulations. We are currently gathering data on the temperature and air quality inside our buildings and investigating how we can make them more efficient to run.
As part of our Ecosystem Resilience and Biodiversity Action Plan, we are monitoring wildlife on campus – the first formal population survey of slow worms was run earlier this year. We are working with students to create a hedgehog friendly campus and have joined with the Hedgehog Friendly Campus accreditation scheme, a national biodiversity programme set up by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society in collaboration with SOS-UK.
Working with Cardiff Council, we are helping to create a connected forest in Cardiff city centre – where we plant trees which feed into Cardiff Council’s replant strategy.
We are also focusing on travel. ‘Changing Steps Cardiff’ is a rewards programme designed to encourage our staff and students to use healthier and more sustainable modes of travel. Freshers’ students at University Halls Residences will be travelling on newer and cleaner buses to campus from this term.
Difficult decisions undoubtedly lie ahead. But I’m confident the University, in conjunction with its dedicated staff and students, is in a strong position to navigate these challenges.”