Nov 16 2021

COP26: Forests have arrived…

It won’t have escaped your notice that we are in the midst of COP26 – the global conference aiming to ensure that we remain within the all important 1.5 degrees Celsius. The UK Government went into COP26 stating it’s priorities as “Cars, Cash, Coal and Trees”. On trees, they have pulled together a coalition of the willing to end deforestation by 2030. This is a positive step, and it would be all too easy to be cynical about this, as some have been. My view is that it is the important first step on delivering the action required, and it also strengthens our own calls for the protection of irreplaceable ancient woodland here in the UK. A call which was heard both within the conference itself and from the many supporters out on the streets of Glasgow and other cities during Saturday’s Global Day of Action.

I’m pleased to say that we were able to represent the crucial role that woods and trees can and should play as a key nature based solution to climate change. Amongst the many engagements, I had the privilege of speaking to 80 CEOs of major business and the Defra Ministerial Team to profile the value of woods and trees and the benefits of doing the right trees in the right place with the right partner! Showcasing the UK Reforestation Coalition, these CEOs were treated to not only the inspirational Glen Finglas video but also testimony from their peers from our partners (OVO Energy, Severn Trent Water, Lloyds Banking Group & Pets at Home). A job made easier by the presenter before me…Al Gore (!) stating that “the most significant technology we have available to us to pull carbon out of the atmosphere is called a tree”.

With the Northern Forest and Queen’s Green Canopy raised by the chair of our All Party Parliamentary Group for Woods & Trees in Boris Johnson’s COP26 report to the House of Commons, a strong tree message travelled back from Glasgow to Westminster. As it has undoubtedly done to the Senedd, Holyrood and Stormont.

Action is crucial to give words meaning. We know the clock is ticking and empty promises are worthless. So time will tell whether the high ambition needed is met with the action to deliver. We can be assured that we will play our part, wielding one of nature’s most powerful weapons as we fight the twin crises of climate change and nature loss. It reaffirms the need for us to be ambitious. to have impact in everything we do. to ensure those who look back at COP26 see it as the turning point for a better future – for people, for nature, for the planet.

As John Kerry, US Climate Envoy said to James and Dan (in a Glasgow pub!)…”forests have arrived as an issue”. He’s not wrong…

Darren Moorcroft

Chief Executive

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