Monday, 15 November 2021

COP26 - What did it mean for Local and Regional Government?

COP26 resulted in what is officially known as the Glasgow Climate Pact. This is the document that included the now infamous ‘phasing down’ rather than ‘phasing out of coal reference. Many of us feel immense dismay about the COP26 outcome but within the document it is worth knowing what is in it that is relevant to our local Councils.

There are several key references in the ‘Glasgow Climate Pact’ document. There is a mention in
the Preamble to the pact

“Recognizing the important role of indigenous peoples, local communities and civil
society, including youth and children, in addressing and responding to climate change, and
highlighting the urgent need for multilevel and cooperative action”

Multilevel action means local government and it’s important it is recognised in the preamble to the Glasgow Climate Pact as it gives legitimacy and recognition to national government for the role councils play in addressing climate change.

At the UK level the key body we have to key into is the Local Net Zero Forum which is a body where national and local government come together to work on action to address climate change from a local perspective. This was announced as part of the Net Zero Strategy in October so we know nothing about how it will operate or it’s terms of reference. The Local Net Zero Forum has its roots in the agreement at COP24, 3 years ago. As well as Government Departments it includes the Local Government Association so we Greens have the opportunity to get our input through that route as members of the LGA Independent Group.

The importance of involving local communities on action to address climate change is also mentioned,

“Emphasizes the important role of indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ culture
and knowledge in effective action on climate change, and urges Parties to actively involve
indigenous peoples and local communities in designing and implementing climate action and
to engage with the second three-year workplan for implementing the functions of the Local
Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform, for 2022–2024;”

The only way that local communities can be effectively engaged is through the facilitating role that local Councils play as the body that works most closely with local communities. There is no structured way that this would happen coming from a national level so each Council will do it in its own way. There needs to be a more organised and structured way for Councils to engage their communities in climate action.

Getting the Local Government Association to do some work on this and get it recognised by national government would be one way to progress this.

There is a special mention for ‘youth’ and in the context of local government

“Urges Parties and stakeholders to ensure meaningful youth participation and representation in multilateral, national and local decision-making processes, including under the Convention and the Paris Agreement;”

This is the first time I’ve seen a specific role for youth in a COP outcome document and also in reference to local decision making processes. As with local communities it seems it is up to local councils as to how they do this with no specific guidance from national government. Again some guidance on how this can be done meaningfully would be helpful.

No comments:

Post a Comment