After a two-year build up and pandemic-related postponement, COP26 has finally happened. 200,000 people from around the world are on their way home. Glaswegians have their city back. The world will now prepare for the next ‘ratchet’ in 2022, which means a tightening of each country’s NDCs (nationally determined contributions) in an attempt to get the world on track for no more than 1.5c warming. With all these legal pledges, talk of planetary boundaries, climate science, and so many interest groups shouting to be heard both at COP and online, it’s easy to get lost and confused.
Honestly, being physically at COP was no different. From every corner, every venue, every screen, a different group was speaking about what meaningful climate action means to them. The climate issue is complex and different issues, albeit all interwoven, will affect some groups more than others. Hearing from marginalised groups, especially Indigenous Peoples and parties from the Global South was beautiful, vital and intense in equal measure. As a business, launching at COP and being able to absorb all the information, all the emotion and all the energy has given us that supercharged fire in our bellies to repair our planet.
For individuals though, that complexity and intensity can be anxiety-inducing, and it can be extremely hard to understand how you can make a difference. There are two elements to this that Glasgow has shown to be true. Firstly, the magnitude of the problem means that it is crucial that governments and businesses make the seismic change within their own systems, over individual action. Secondly, that it is passion that drives action. If you believe in a particular strand of sustainability enough, you can and should make your voice heard. As Dr Katherine Hayhoe and Steve Westlake both have said, your individual actions by themselves may not make a huge difference, but communicating those actions does. Just look at the Greta Thunbergs and Vanessa Nakates of this world.
For those of you a little more introverted than those prominent climate activists, what would we suggest is the next step for you, after COP? Well, firstly we suggest that you see how you can reduce your own carbon emissions and environmental impact year on year. Can you fly less? Can you eat less meat? Can you use the car less and maybe ride a bike to work? Perhaps you can reduce your plastic consumption or buy more second-hand products. Be sure to choose those actions that you are passionate about and don’t worry about perfection. Secondly, amplify your choices and get yourself heard - this could be by joining a group, posting on social media or writing to your MP to tell them about it.
Thirdly and finally, where there are gaps in your ability to reduce your environmental impact, let Pinwheel help. We’ve organised the most powerful planet repairing projects we could find into four passion-based projects. Can’t decide whether you want to put your money towards removing carbon or protecting sea animals? The Ocean Rescue plan packages together super carbon-capturing seagrass planting with ocean plastic clean-up so that your subscription supports both. Want to fund initiatives that will absorb carbon from our environment but don’t know where to start? Our in-house experts have used Pinwheel’s project rating system to choose the projects with the most planet-saving promise for you to help fund through the New Horizons plan.
By working out what means the most to you and working to protect it, you’ll be able to make so much more of a difference than you think, and we hope that we can help you get there.