'Largely a disappointment': Green campaigners uninspired by COP26

Norwich environmentalists have reacted to COP26 

Norwich environmentalists have reacted to COP26 - Credit: Archant

Eco campaigners have said they are "disappointed" by the waffly wording of the climate change agreement reached at COP26. 

After the Glasgow conference prime minister Boris Johnson described the meeting of world leaders as "the beginning of the end of climate change". 

He hailed the "first ever international agreement" to phase down coal use and outlined a roadmap to limit global warning to 1.5 degrees.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on stage at the UN Climate Change Conference 2021 in Glasgow

Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the Leaders' Action on Forests and Land-use event during the COP26 summit in Glasgow - Credit: PA

But city folk believe more could have been done to ensure the conference will have a real impact on reducing carbon and emissions in Norwich.

Norwich-based TV presenter, conservationist, author and vet Dr Jess French, said: "I’m disappointed that the wording of the final agreement was not stronger.

TV presenter and veterinary surgeon Jess French. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

TV presenter and veterinary surgeon Jess French. Picture: Victoria Pertusa - Credit: Archant

"I had hoped for greater urgency in the face of the climate emergency - an emergency which we are already experiencing."

The former Norwich School pupil added: "But I did feel that the publicity around the conference got people speaking about climate change and was really inspired by the young people who spoke both inside and outside the event." 

The XR COP26 protest as demonstrators gather at City Hall in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The XR COP26 protest as demonstrators gather at City Hall in Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Norwich ecologist and nature writer Kate Blincoe said many people wanted to see global leaders go further at COP26, but she does feel there has been "significant progress" on climate change. 

She said: "The current situation does place more responsibility on individuals and businesses – we can’t rely on politicians alone.

"The sense of urgency came across loud and clear and I already see people responding to that.

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"Norwich is so well placed to step up and dramatically reduce emissions.

"We’ve got some of the best thinkers here on sustainability and climate science in the world, and if the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, with all its pressures, can announce new green measures then it really shows the potential for everyone." 

Kate Blincoe and children (photo: Phil Barnes)

Kate Blincoe and children (photo: Phil Barnes) - Credit: Archant

The NNUH has pledged to become net-zero by 2040 with measures including removing desflurane from operating theatres and switching to reusable trays for drawing up anaesthetic drugs.

The theatres teams at NNUH

The theatres team at NNUH is implementing sustainable practices like reusable trays and reducing non-clinical and clinical single-use plastic items - Credit: NNUH

Mrs Blincoe believes the biggest structural problem in the city is a reliance on petrol and diesel vehicles for people travelling to Norwich from rural communities. 

"That would be my first focus for reducing overall emissions," she said.

During COP26 leaders worked to build consensus on the transition to zero emission vehicles. 

Over 30 countries pledged to make all new car sales zero emission globally by 2040, and by 2035 in leading markets.

This follows the UK's commitment to end the sale of all petrol and diesel cars by 2030. 

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (right) greet

Prime minister Boris Johnson (left) and UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres (right) greet India prime minister Narendra Modi at the Cop26 summit last Monday - Credit: PA

Emma Hampton, Norwich City Council's cabinet member for climate change, said: "COP26 was largely a disappointment.

"It delivered modest progress – at absolute best – when what we need is a transformational leap.

"It falls short of delivering the practical measures urgently required to limit warming to 1.5 degrees, with analysis of the pledges to come out of Glasgow having shown we’re on track to hit a disastrous 2.4 degrees.

"Norwich will continue to show local leadership in tackling the climate crisis.

Emma Hampton, Labour candidate for Nelson. Pic: Labour Party.

Emma Hampton, Norwich City Council cabinet member for climate change - Credit: Labour Party

"But COP26 has once against demonstrated that the government is behind the curve and failing to treat this like the emergency it is." 

The city council declared a climate emergency in 2019 with the authority's emissions falling by 70pc against a 2008 baseline.

Miss Hampton said citywide emissions have fallen by 52.9pc since 2005 with a new independent Norwich Climate Commission aiming to become net zero by 2045.

The cabinet member also pointed out the city council is the first in the UK to run a reverse solar panel auction, in addition to building eco-friendly social housing and setting up its own renewable energy company.

Miss Hampton added: "The government now needs to step up and match our local ambition by legislating for transformative national change and by providing councils with the resources we require to go further still.”

Norwich has changed over the passed 10 years. Picture: David Harper

Citywide emissions have fallen by 52.9pc since 2005 - Credit: citizenside.com

Following the Glasgow conference, the UK government has said it will continue to work with other countries to deliver on the Glasgow Climate Pact and drive further action.