What is COP26 & what does it have to do with extreme poverty?

World leaders are coming together this November for COP26 – a global conference to address the climate emergency. The decisions made will impact us all, but particularly those living in extreme poverty who bear the brunt of the climate crisis.

What is COP26?

From October 31st to November 12th, 190 world leaders will meet in Scotland for the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26). The event will accelerate collaboration between countries, companies and people on the frontline of climate change to inspire meaningful climate action.

This year is particularly significant because it falls five years after the Paris Agreement was born. At COP21 in Paris, for the first time ever, every country agreed to work together to limit global warming to below 2 degrees (aiming for 1.5 degrees), to adapt to the impacts of our changing climate and to secure the funds to deliver on these aims. Countries committed to create national plans laying out how they would reduce their carbon emissions and agreed to update these plans every five years – starting with COP26.

With progress to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees not moving fast enough, it is critical that COP26 is decisive and that leaders prioritise fulfilling their commitments over the next decade.

 

The Climate Crisis & Global Poverty

When we talk about the climate crisis in the UK, we often refer to generic concern for the planet and to an existential fear of the extinction of the human race. The effects of the climate crisis in poorer regions of the world, however, are already being felt. The impact is very real, often devastating and difficult to recover from.

Despite historically being the least likely to increase carbon emissions, people living in extreme poverty are hit first and hardest. Extreme weather, major climate events and shortages of food and water are threatening the lives of people living in poverty. And because they live in poverty, it is harder to recover when harvests fail, homes are destroyed, livelihoods are lost and health crisis strike.

At the same time, climate change is also making poverty worse. Alongside the pandemic and conflict (which is often caused by limited resources as a result of the environment), climate change is a major contributor to the increasing number of people experiencing extreme poverty. It is estimated that by 2030, the climate crisis could have pushed over 132 million more people below the poverty line.

Climate change is a justice issue: it is not just highlighting the world’s inequalities, but exacerbating them.

 

Our Work with Climate-Vulnerable Communities

Tzedek works with rural and marginalised communities in Ghana and India that experience extreme poverty. The people we work with are often heavily reliant on agriculture for their food and livelihoods. We are working with our partners to support people to adapt to the impacts of climate change, build resilience to extreme natural hazards and adapt to changing weather patterns.

This includes:

  • Empowering individuals and communities to diversify their livelihoods, protecting themselves from losing their income due to the climate.
  • Working with farmers to set up farm schools that demonstrate effective and adaptable farming practices, including climate resilience.
  • Enabling farmers to earn more from their work by grouping them so that they have access government policies that are otherwise only available to larger scale farmers.
  • Supporting women to create long-term, consistent income opportunities that are not vulnerable to shifting weather patterns.

 

COP26 presents an opportunity to unite and support the communities most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. World leaders will lead the way in pushing action to avert, minimise and address the loss and damage to communities, individuals, infrastructure and natural habitats. United action is the only way to mitigate the greatest risk facing the international community.

We will be posting blogs and updates throughout the conference – watch this space.