Walk2COP26: Carbon Copy’s Ric Casale on the importance of local climate action

Six people in walking clothes are stood in a forest on a dirt road.

Today, a group of six intrepid walkers from UK climate charity Carbon Copy have set off on a 510km journey from London to Glasgow. They’re due to arrive just in time for the start of the UN Climate Conference, COP26, and along the way, they’ll be meeting groups and individuals across business, government and civic society who are driving forward climate action in their local area. In this guest blog, Co-Founder of Carbon Copy Ric Casale tells us more about Walk2COP26 – and why local action is key to combatting the climate crisis.

Sharing Our ‘Dash’: London – Glasgow

“I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning… to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.”

In her poem, Linda Ellis goes on to embellish that little line in-between: that what matters more than the dates is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

There is so much expectation for greater ambition and collaboration between the parties attending the global climate summit (COP26) in Glasgow next month. At the same time, we also expect our national government in Westminster to do more about the climate emergency and to put their pledges into practice. Between these two focal points is all the climate action that takes place locally; our dash.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and the space in between London and Glasgow is filling up. Different social and commercial models are taking hold, from community energy schemes to community-supported agriculture (CSA); community land trusts (CLTs) to electric car clubs and community buses; circular economy initiatives from local recycling enterprises to repair cafés. The scope for local climate action is expanding all the time, as there are carbon consequences when addressing issues such as food poverty, community resilience and neglected public spaces.

In facing up to the climate crisis that’s on our doorstep, it has been local and municipal governments that have led in their ambition and willingness to act. Today, almost three-quarters of all local authority areas across the UK have formally declared a climate emergency and over half of them have set a goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions locally by 2030 or sooner. That’s twenty years ahead of the national target of 2050.

The pandemic has made us all much more aware of the fragility of our social and economic systems and of our own vulnerability, everywhere. At the same time, we realise how deeply interconnected we are, with the natural world and with each other. And from these shifts in how we think about one another and our surroundings has emerged a stronger sense of solidarity and a resolve to build back better where we live.

The importance and impact of local action amidst the noise of high-profile events and personalities continues to be under-reported, hidden in plain sight. Showcasing this local leadership and inspiring others through example is what UK climate action charity Carbon Copy stands for. Walking from London to Glasgow and meeting different people en route is another way for us to draw people’s attention to the all-important stuff that’s happening elsewhere.

Walk2COP26 takes place during October when six people will walk 500 miles in just 26 days. Along the way, we will engage people in this groundswell of local leadership and shine a light on the civic actions that local government, businesses, and civil society can and are taking. Supporting the walk, Carbon Copy will amplify the carbon stories that unfold, helping to shape our collective imagination about what is possible and about how we might live our dash.

Ric Casale, Co-founder of Carbon Copy, walking from London to Glasgow.

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