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Why is the COP26 conference so important for the countryside?

Jackie Copley
By Jackie Copley
8th November 2021

The climate emergency is the biggest threat to the countryside (and the planet). Find out more about why CPRE delegates attended the COP26 summit in Glasgow.

A CPRE delegation, including members from Lancashire, Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester, attended COP-26 in Glasgow, the global United Nations summit about the climate emergency and how countries are planning to tackle it, to highlight rural issues.

CPRE agrees that the climate emergency poses the greatest threat to the countryside.  Scientists have shown that the Earth’s average temperature is warming much faster than normal with devastating impacts on the environment across the world, including on our rural areas with increased flooding, collapse of many species and problems for many communities.

The biodiversity or ecological emergency is also linked into the climate emergency. Hundreds of thousands of different species of animals and plants are facing extinction because of human activity.

Human activity, particularly the burning of fossil fuels (oil, coal and gas), which release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and trap heat from the sun, warming the Earth is the cause of the climate crisis.  We need to stop using fossil fuels and instead use cleaner renewable energy sources (hydro, off shore-wind and roof mounted solar).

See graph below from the IPCC’s website:


The Government’s high growth agenda has resulted in rapid urbanisation and increased car dependency with harm to our countryside.

Significant loss of greenspace, woodland, trees and hedgerows, which absorb carbon dioxide but release it when developed.

CPRE has shown the high level of growth that the Government promotes is unnecessary.  We urge for the reuse of brownfield land in existing urban places to be a priority and to promote sustainable development based on walking, cycling and public transport networks.

We campaign for more hedgerows as they absorb carbon and support biodiversity.  The way we dispose of waste needs change to stop landfilling, particularly food waste, as it leads to harmful greenhouse gas emissions.  CPRE promotes reduction, reuse and recycling and championed deposit return schemes with retailers and has encouraged many litter picks to care for our environment. We continue to work to research and promote practical ways in which the countryside can mitigate the climate emergency.

Protesters at the 2021 Global Day of Action for the Climate March, Manchester Mike Cushing
Quernmore landscape