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1 Nov 2021

Joint call on delivering for nature and climate at COP26

A group of people stand and sit on a cliff top. In the background are dramatic cliffs and a blue sea, with white waves crashing against the rocks.
In the midst of a nature and climate emergency, it’s vital that world leaders commit to ambitious action to tackle both crises together, to maximise the outcomes for climate, nature and people.

Protecting and restoring nature to help address the climate crisis must happen in parallel to, not instead of, an urgent fossil fuel phase out and economy-wide emissions reductions.

We represent some of the UK’s largest landowners and membership organisations. We have a shared commitment to high quality nature-based climate solutions, as outlined in the Wimpole nature-based solutions compact and we’re all actively working to mitigate and adapt to climate change, alongside nature’s recovery.

We know what many of the solutions are and we’re all taking large-scale action for nature, hand in hand with climate, playing our part in complementary ways:

  • The National Trust is committed to restoring nature across its entire 250,000ha estate and delivering nature-based solutions to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate. We’re restoring our peatlands, improving river catchments, creating new habitats such as saltmarsh and establishing 20 million trees to meet the recommendations of the UK’s climate experts.
  • The RSPB manages 160,000ha of land across more than 200 reserves in the UK, representing a myriad of habitat types. Working in partnership with landowners and managers across many sectors, we deliver effective nature-based solutions that benefit wildlife and people and help both mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.
  • The Woodland Trust welcomes people to over 1,000 woodlands across the UK. We campaign to protect our irreplaceable ancient woodlands as one of our most carbon and nature-rich habitats. By 2025, we will inspire and mobilise communities, schools, local authorities, and land managers to join with us in planting 50 million native trees to absorb carbon, support nature and help us adapt to a changing climate.
  • The National Trust for Scotland manages over 77,000ha of land including the UK’s largest National Nature Reserve at Mar Lodge Estate in the Cairngorms. Our estate includes woodland and peatland, farmed and designed landscapes along with thousands of miles of coastline. We’re working with partners to deliver nature-based solutions to historical damage to increase carbon sequestration and enhance native wildlife. This work is contributing towards our target to be carbon negative by 2031.

We are demonstrating that change is possible. But action by individual organisations on the ground is not enough.

Leadership and ambition from the UK and devolved governments alike is needed to drive the investment and action that nature and climate need now.

Currently, the UK Government’s credibility on the global stage is critically undermined by its failure to deliver at home in some key areas. Our protected sites network is neither big enough nor well managed for the species and carbon stores it’s home to; the new support scheme for farming in England needs much greater detail and ambition and the UK Government’s Net Zero Strategy – which despite its presentation as ‘world-leading’ – has ignored the central role nature, and changes to land use, must play.

We call on the UK Government and world leaders to set the right ambition and make COP26 a success for climate by grounding it in nature’s recovery.

A successful COP26 will:

  • Demonstrate the UK’s credibility as a world leader, and as COP Presidency, by taking urgent action to go further for nature and climate at home.
  • Formally recognise that keeping global temperature rises to no more than 1.5C is impossible without investing in the protection and restoration of nature. We need to see nature anchored into the decision text adopted at COP26 to drive investment, and rapid and urgent action on the ground.
  • Ensure that nature is fully embedded in each nation’s domestic climate plans so that its potential to both capture carbon and help society adapt to climate change is maximised.
  • Lay a solid foundation for global ambition to tackle the nature and climate crisis together, paving the way for an equally ambitious and integrated outcome when global leaders gather to agree a new Global Biodiversity Framework next year in China.
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