The UK General Election - 4th July 2024

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COP26: Gender Day

The day that was: Adaptation, Loss and Damage Day

  • Yesterday was COP26’s Adaptation, Loss and Damage Day, which focused on averting, minimising and addressing the loss and damage that is already occurring from climate change in order to protect communities and natural habitats.
  • The Adaptation Fund, a climate adaptation financing fund which gives developing countries full ownership of adaptation projects, got a $232million boost. This is the highest single mobilization to the fund to date.
  • Meanwhile, the UN’s Race to Resilience campaign unveiled a new set of metrics to help non-state actors measure their climate resilience and assess the strength of their plans for improvement. This will be open to cities, regions, businesses and investors. The campaign is engaging non-state actors in order to improve climate resilience for more than 2.3billion people worldwide, with hopes to get this number to 4billion by the end of the decade.
  • The UN Fashion Charter was updated to meet higher standards. The Charter originally required signatories to cut emissions by 30% by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2050. Yesterday, this figure changed to 50% by 2030 and net zero by 2050. There are 130 signatory brands, including H&M Group, Zara, Nike and Primark.
  • Obama pulled in big crowds yesterday as he urged countries to recognise the urgency of what’s taking place. He said climate change should transcend day-to-day politics and geopolitics, and that we cannot afford to “stay where we are”.

 

COP26: Gender Day

Throughout the decades, feminism has taken on many faces, shifting focus and adapting to address the most pressing gender equality issues of the moment. As the climate crisis becomes ever more urgent, and populations are experiencing the ensuing disruption and displacement, women are being disproportionately impacted. Today, the agenda for COP26 will focus on the rights and livelihoods of women with the belief that challenging gender inequality must now go hand in hand with tackling climate change: this COP26 will be a chance to either further this agenda or else see the gap widen.

 

Why is gender on the agenda?

The United Nations estimated in 2018 that a staggering 80% of those displaced by climate change are women, demonstrating the extent to which they are being inordinately impacted. There are myriad reasons for this, the most apparent being that 70% of the 1.3 billion people living in poverty are women. Those in poverty are most likely to be severely impacted by natural disasters, while lacking the resources to recover in the aftermath.

Meanwhile, women are more likely to be dependent on the land and natural resources, both for their income, and for securing food, water and fuel for themselves and their families. As both land and natural resources are threatened by climate change, so women are left in increasingly vulnerable positions. The Global Centre on Adaptation has suggested that around 100 million people living in developing countries could be pushed into poverty by climate change by 2030, and from what we’ve seen so far, women will be the hardest hit.

Alongside displacement and poverty, women who experience natural disasters are then at a heightened risk of gender-based violence and other similar brutalities. Correspondingly, the effect of the disaster will often further exacerbate gender inequality, as households face income loss and girls are removed from education to work or help at home.

However, inasmuch as women face the largest threat from climate change, they are equally essential to finding the solutions. Studies have shown that having women in leadership positions effects positive change within the sustainability space. Often women are at the centre of managing households and local communities, and so having them as part of the conversation enables sustainable practices at these levels, which will be crucial to finding global and holistic solutions to tackling the crisis.

 

‘Gender Day’ at COP26

Today marks ‘Gender Day’ at COP26, which seeks to recognise and celebrate gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in climate policy and action. At COP25, Parties agreed on an enhanced gender action plan through the Lima programme. The plan sets out objectives and activities under five priority areas, which aim to advance knowledge and understanding of gender-responsive climate action in the work that’s being done internationally to tackle climate change. Today will be a chance to interrogate what progress has been made on the plan since then, and where governments have fallen short.

Alongside the enhanced gender action plan, the Women in Finance Climate Action Group has been set up, a collective of women leaders from around the world who are seeking to tackle the connected issued of gender inequality and private climate finance. This group is looking to strengthen its networks in order to help solve issues for women globally and convene at COP26 to decide on what needs to be done next.

While it’s promising to see world leaders identifying the centrality of gender issues to the debate, and giving them a platform at COP26, many have panned that the actions pay only lip service until real change is enacted. Globally, only 21% of government ministers are women. In September 2020, the UK announced an all-male team to host the UN climate summit, which drew a lot of criticism. However, today the UK  presidency has announced the appointment of 15 cabinet ministers from countries around the world to finish off COP negotiations. The group includes eight women and seven men, living up to the gender equality theme of the day – the Government evidently didn’t want to make the same mistake again.

With that being said, male leaders continue to hold the keys to making these concerns a priority, and all eyes will be on them as we wait to see whether recognition can be translated into tangible action. However, what is clear is that effective solutions will not be possible without tackling gender inequality, and vice versa.

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