COP27: the Prime Minister must lead to protect the natural world
Kathryn Brown, director of climate change and evidence for The Wildlife Trusts, explains why the charity is working with the National Trust, RSPB and more on the #DefendNature campaign and why the Prime Minister must show leadership at COP27
It has been a bleak countdown to the next international climate conference, COP27, which starts in Egypt on Sunday. In the 12 months since COP26, in the UK we’ve seen temperatures over 40 degrees recorded for the first time ever, wildfires consume heaths and grassland, killing wildlife, and a summer long drought which dried up lakes, rivers and reservoirs.
Last month, the government missed a legal deadline to set important targets for nature’s recovery, and fears about backtracking on crucial wildlife and eco-friendly policies have brought The Wildlife Trusts, The National Trust, the RSPB and others together to mount a joint campaign to #DefendNature.
Climate change is having devastating consequences for people and wildlife
It’s vital that the Prime Minister shows climate leadership by championing nature’s recovery at COP27. The climate and nature crises are two sides of the same coin – we must restore nature because natural habitats have a critical role to play in storing carbon and helping us adapt to the inevitable consequences of climate change. At the same time, climate change is one of the biggest threats to nature at a time when it is already in freefall globally; the latest assessment reveals we have lost 70 per cent of our biodiversity since 1970.
Gardeners are well-placed to make positive changes
The UK must do more than simply turn up to COP27. We need assurances that the government will rapidly increase efforts to protect at least 30 per cent of land and sea by 2030 and strengthen environmental protections at home. How can we expect other countries to prioritise nature in tackling climate change if we aren’t doing the same ourselves?
Whilst policy makers set frameworks, all of us can do our bit to help and gardeners are well placed to make positive changes.
Currently around 20 per cent of homes are at significant risk of overheating. There are more than 2,000 heat-related deaths per year across the UK. Shrubs and trees around your house help reduce the temperature, and don’t forget the walls, climbers such as roses, ivy, clematis, jasmine and honeysuckle are great for wildlife and for cooling too. Install water butts to capture rainwater, and don’t waste resources by watering lawns during a drought.
Instead of fences plant a wildlife friendly hedge
Peat is one of our biggest allies for a healthy climate, it locks in carbon, and stores and filters water. The sale of peat in compost will be banned from 2024. But if you haven’t already, go peat free now! There are plenty of alternatives to grow plants, and peat needs to remain in bogs, not bags!
Across the UK 1.9 million people currently live in areas of significant flooding. This number could double as early as the 2050s. Replace garden paving and driveways with landscaping which allows rainwater to soak into the ground reducing flash flooding. Research permeable paving and create soft paths by opting for tough plants which will take wear and tear like thyme, creeping jenny and bugle.
Instead of fences, plant wildlife friendly hedges, blackbirds nest in them, and berries are brilliant autumn and winter food for thrushes and small mammals. Hedges create wind breaks, reduce road noise and pollution, and absorb water and CO2.
Find out more about COP27 and adapting to climate change wildlifetrusts.org
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