This November’s Conference of the Parties (COP) is critical for the future of our planet but why?

By Helen Tandy

I have been campaigning for almost as long as the UN have spoken about the climate yet little progress has been made. This year’s COP will be the most significant yet, being widely thought of as the last chance for world leaders to commit to action on climate change before we reach the 2030 deadline.

2021 marks the 26th year of the conference, with last year’s meeting being postponed due to Covid. You will see reference to COP26 on social media.

With more than 20,000 delegates from 197 countries attending the event in Glasgow, along with 120 heads of state at the main event. But, Glasgow will also host lots of fringe events that anyone can get involved in, which will further increase the number of visitors to the city.

Information on the Climate Fringe COP26 –

Holyrood COP26 Fringe Festival –

You will have noticed a huge increase in the press and online about Climate Change and we can all get involved in some way.

 What is The Paris Agreement?

Agreed at COP21, The Paris Agreement is an international treaty signed by almost all countries in the world, in Paris in 2015. It’s aim was to keep the rise in the global average temperature to ‘well below’ 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, ideally 1.5 degrees.                                                              

What does COP26 aim to achieve and why is it important?

COP26 is a critical summit for global climate action. To have a chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees, global emissions must halve by 2030 and reach ‘net-zero’ by 2050.

Their role is to come up with a viable plan that will protect humans, animals and nature from a climate catastrophe of unknown scale but of certain devastation.

This year’s COP is important because it is the year that all countries will reflect on how well they’ve achieved these aims, as well as submit their long-term goals.

Sadly, the commitments laid out in Paris did not come close to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees – meaning the years approaching 2030 will be crucial.

With COP26, countries must go much further than they did in order to keep the hope of holding temperature rises to 1.5 alive.

What can I do in the run up to COP26?

1 – Read more about the issues, we have worked a lot with The Climate Coalition and they have some great resources. LINK

The Climate Coalitions 10 Point Plan – READ

2- Join our Carbon Footprint Friends Project and make changes to how you live – JOIN

3- Join a Campaign Group, Climate Action Chester & District is a group of members of Friends of the Earth Chester & District – MORE INFO

4- Attend one of the events under What’s on.

Carbon Footprint Steps in Cheshire

Giki is an online personal guide to calculate, track and reduce your environmental footprint. Our Great Big Green Week Festival linked the principles of Giki in its core message. As Giki is online our Carbon Footprint Friends project brought it to the physical out of the virtual. The Children had great fun checking out the nature activities and answering questions linked backed to our stalls.

Next Step

We’ve turned some of these steps into posters and are now looking to work with businesses in Chester to help residents complete the stamp cards.

Example e.g. have a vegan lunch – vegan cafes and restaurants might want to take part. Buy Fairtrade, link to shop in Chester selling Fairtrade. All that businesses will need to cover is the cost of the stamp at £15 each.

See example of stamp sheet….

Read our latest Eco Communications – Giki magazine

Why should I sign up to Giki?

We encourage you to sign up to Giki as part of our Eco Communities account.

Once you’ve signed up, Giki will ask a few simple lifestyle questions to get you started. Answering these questions gives you an initial estimate of your carbon footprint which you can track on your Progress page. This is the “go to” page for all your headline personalised information where you can see how your carbon footprint shapes up and what your Giki score is.

Find the right steps for your lifestyle and budget

These steps will help lighten your footprint on the planet. Choose from over 130 steps, that you can choose based on areas of your lifestyle, ease and impact. Tick off the steps when you complete them to boost your Giki score and update your footprint to see how much carbon you’ve cut.

You can even choose to join one of the many teams and work with your neighbours or community group together.

Join our Carbon Footprint Friends project..

Lets work together to take steps to reduce our carbon footprint.

Have a look at ‘Select Team’ if you have a specific group you want to join. If you are on a mobile or tablet, you might need to select the three dots to see this option.

What is a Carbon Footprint?

A personal carbon footprint measures the greenhouse gases which are emitted as a result of the activities of an individual.

Typically it’s measured in kilograms or tonnes of carbon dioxide ‘equivalents’. This is because whilst carbon dioxide is the main greenhouses gas it also needs to include other gases such as methane and nitrous oxide which have much greater global warming potential.

The activities that a carbon footprint covers are broad, because so many of our day to day activities lead to greenhouse gas emissions. They can be split out into 5 main areas:

  • Running a home which includes heating, electricity and waste.
  • Transport because when we drive, fly or use other transport fossil fuels are often burnt.
  • What we eat, drink and any food we waste.
  • What we buy from clothes to electrical items to personal care.
  • The services we use which includes how we invest, where we stay on holiday and our mobile and internet.

Adding these all up the average global carbon footprint for an individual is around 5 tonnes but it’s 9 tonnes in the UK, over 15 tonnes in the United States and under 2 tonnes in India. Whilst the majority of a carbon footprint is carbon dioxide the food we eat often adds methane (from livestock) and nitrous oxide (from fertilizer) to the total.

What is my Carbon Footprint?

Everyone’s carbon footprint is different. Sometimes a little bit but often a lot with the richest 10% having an average carbon footprint over 20 tonnes whilst the poorest 50% are under 1 tonne. The one thing we do know is that people with higher footprints needs to dramatically cut them over the next 10 years with an aim to hit 2.5 tonnes, or less, by 2030. Ideally people would reach Net Zero (where any emissions we do create are balanced by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere) at the same time or as soon as possible after that.

The carbon footprint for an average UK person is shown in the chart. Normally our homes, what we eat and how we get around are the largest contributors making up roughly a quarter each. However, before decide how to reduce our carbon footprints it’s important to get a more personalised estimate to make sure we’re looking in the right places for the big cuts. This is where personal carbon footprint calculators come in.