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Five Reasons to be Optimistic Following COP26

Five Reasons to be Optimistic Following COP26

Fox + Hare were at COP26 – and despite the general feeling that more should have been done, we still found many outcomes to feel future-positive about.

Fox + Hare were at COP26 – and despite the general feeling that more should have been done, we still found many outcomes to feel future-positive about.

Now that the dust has settled on the much-anticipated COP26, it’s time to reflect on what was agreed and what’s left to do. Although the Glasgow Climate Pact wasn’t necessarily the full result we needed to keep warming under 1.5 degrees, it did make some builds on the Paris Agreement – and we believe there are positive signs that together, we can still achieve this target. Here, we’ve put together five reasons to be optimistic about COP26 and the future it hints at:

1. High-emission industries are looking to undo the harm they’ve caused

Those who are most responsible for making a negative impact are feeling the responsibility for unmaking it (and rightly so). Whether it’s rebuilding cities, designing for humans and not vehicles, regenerating land that’s been exploited, or making over-consumption uncool (albeit by the very people who made it cool to start with) – there’s now a trend towards particular industries reducing and reversing some of the damage done. We’ve seen this from car manufacturers like Volvo pledging to become climate-neutral by 2040, or through Nestlé’s large-scale investments in regenerative agriculture programmes.

2. Future solutions inspired by the past

The past often holds the key to the future, and many of the suggestions for moving forwards in a more sustainable way were in fact inspired by the past. At their core, nature-based solutions and indigenous knowledge come from centuries of working with, rather than against, nature. These include solutions such as looking at innovations in soil health and management of organic waste, creating carbon sinks from nature, building cities made for walking, or even just focusing on quieter, more balanced lives that are more in touch with the natural world. Truly revolutionarily solutions were limited in what we observed at COP, with the focus being on robotics, electrification of all vehicles, or the management of (very) big data. We believe that both scaling up past solutions and investing in true innovation are needed, given where we are today, and together they’ll help us achieve what’s necessary.

3. Integrated problems, integrated solutions

Getting to net-zero carbon can seem like the only goal that matters, but it’s important that net-zero shouldn’t be at the expense of nature, or even cause further emissions in the form of non-carbon GHGs. Society, government, and industries need to collaborate to ensure problems are addressed with limited negative externalities. Siloed solutions are not going to resolve these nested problems, and it was inspiring to attend panels that contained a mix of different climate stakeholders looking for ways to work together – such as electric vehicle manufacturers working with universities and energy networks to bring a second life to EV batteries by using them to balance the grid. The greater the collaboration, the more we can achieve.

4. Grassroots leadership

As Greta Thunberg pointed out, leadership doesn’t just come from leaders. We loved seeing civil society, local authorities and brands walk the talk and demonstrate leadership through action. The Environmental Minister of Bogota put it well – whilst Colombia is only responsible for 0.7% of global emissions, it wasn’t a reason for the country not to try and do more. Solving the climate crisis can seem like an insurmountable task, but it is through accepting responsibility in small ways that we can start making changes and chip away at the Goliath, and we’re seeing this happening more and more.

5. Making the uncool cool again

As a creative sustainability consultancy, inspiring and motivating sustainability communications is key to us in the fight against climate change. This can come through advertising a better life, as expressed by Purpose Disruptors, a group looking to reshape the ad industry. They interviewed various people in the UK, asking what a good life was to them. In the wake of Covid-19, a good life was expressed as one that was balanced, holistic, and that included spending time in nature and with families; not acquiring material possessions. This can also be achieved through increasing awareness of sustainable alternatives, such as indigenous crops rather than imported options, and making them the desired choice.

As communications experts, we have the power to encourage responsible behaviours amongst brands and consumers, and collaborate with both to help bring the dream of Glasgow to life; another reason we feel optimistic.