School children taking part in a sports day event at Lords Cricket Ground
School children taking part in a sports day event at Lords Cricket Ground

Great Big Green Week: what is it, why is it so important and how can you get involved?

The Great Big Green Week (18th-26th September), the UK’s climate festival, looks set to be bigger and bolder than ever before, as we count down to COP26.

Climate NGOs, domestic climate charities, local communities and others have been spending months and months organising 3000+ activities. People across the UK will be marking the need for urgent climate action by setting up art installations, organising concerts, hosting climate cafes, and much much more, in the hope of bringing together everyone and anyone who cares about tackling climate change. This is the moment before COP26 to make as much noise as possible to call on politicians to raise their ambition and champion action on climate change. We need to show political leaders that this truly is the fight that unites.

Are we on track for COP26?

Three major coalitions, CAN-UK, The Climate Coalition, and Bond, have articulated a clear plan of what needs to be delivered by the UK’s presidency of COP26, focusing on six core policy areas contained in the Glasgow Action Plan. The plan is supported by 105 organisations and provides a clear call-to-action for prime minister Boris Johnson as the UK prepares for COP26 in November 2021. But with only 6 weeks left until COP, the outcomes are far from assured.

In terms of what has already been promised, wealthier countries are not on track for their commitment to provide $100 billion a-year from 2020 to help poorer nations combat the devastating impact of climate change – the goal was missed in 2020 and progress this year is uncertain. Countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change continue to push hard on a Solidarity Package, a finance delivery plan, and urgent action on addressing loss and damage for those suffering the worst impacts of climate change – this vital area of climate action is still not even confirmed as on the agenda for COP26.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently issued a “code red warning for humanity” that human activity is changing the climate in unprecedented and, in some cases, irreversible ways. But we are yet to seen enhanced nationally determined contributions (NDCs) from the majority of G20 countries, including critical climate players like China, Australia, and India, nor the critical uplift in climate finance to meet the $100bn commitment, to support developing countries to adapt, or to address loss and damage.

In terms of the “just transition”, there continues to be strong calls to stop new fossil fuel projects, both at home and abroad, and instead scale up investment in renewable energy access for all, and though we have seen some commitments to end fossil fuel investment from UK export financing, the possibility for a new coal mine in Cumbria remains, as do plans to extend an oil field near Shetland. On the positive side, we are seeing more and more companies and cities commit to reaching net zero carbon emissions.

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With so much at stake, Great Big Green Week is your chance, no matter where you are in the climate conversation, to get involved and build pressure on UK leaders to ensure this year’s COP26 delivers climate justice for low-income countries and marginalised communities. These are the people who are often hit the hardest by climate change despite being the least responsible for causing it.

How can you get involved?

Go to an event: From local theatre, cycling events and film screenings to bake sales, there are over 3,000 events taking place across the UK. Find out what’s happening near you.

Use your voice: Talk about #GreatBigGreenWeek and what you, your colleagues, families and friends are doing to get involved on social media. Help us amplify the message that tackling climate change is the fight that unites. The Great Big Green Week social media toolkit can be found here.

Ask your supporters to tweet or facebook message their MPs: Ask them make a commitment or comment on climate change or, if you’re in England, Scotland or Wales or Northern Ireland, send a message to Prime Minister Boris Johnson asking him to take action on climate change ahead of hosting the world at the UN Climate Summit in November. And, why not get the kids involved and download one of these incredible posters from some of UK’s best loved illustrators to put in your window next week.

From Monday the 18th September, embrace the Great Big Green Week green heart on social media: Support us with your profile picture for the week so that when you go into Facebook you’re suddenly seeing green hearts everywhere.