20 Sep 2021
At the time of writing, we're still in the midst of a global pandemic. The past year has been one of the most challenging times many of us have had to face, and sadly it’s not over yet. But while we’ve all been caught in the same storm, we've not all been in the same boat. Many of us have faced additional challenges – of job losses, home schooling, losing loved ones, and tolls on our physical and mental health. Just like the climate crisis, this health crisis has disproportionately affected the most vulnerable in our society.
And while we’ve been grappling with the horrific impacts of COVID-19, the climate crisis hasn’t gone away. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere reached record levels in 2020, despite COVID restrictions. Politicians have adopted the language of climate emergencies, but action to cut emissions is still pitifully slow.
Yet 2021 brings opportunities as well as challenges. As we rebuild from the devastating effects of COVID-19, we have the opportunity to do so in a way that benefits not just the economy, but people and planet too. From creating green jobs and transforming the way we travel, to re-thinking our throwaway society and valuing our local environment. We can build back better.
2021 also brings political opportunities. In May, we'll see the biggest set of council, mayoral and Senedd elections in years, giving us the chance to push our leaders to take bold climate action. In Northern Ireland, we have the opportunity to push for a much-needed Climate Act to drive down the nation’s emissions. And in November, the UK hosts the COP26 international climate talks in Glasgow, bringing together leaders from across the planet. It's a huge opportunity to shine a light on the actions, and inaction, of governments around the world, and put the UK government’s own climate policy under the spotlight.
Our 2021 goals
Secure Climate Action Plans
We'll secure ambitious Climate Action Plans from our local, regional and national leaders. We'll make sure these plans are created with our wider communities, that they're socially just and fair, and are commensurate with the scale of the climate crisis. Where Climate Action Plans have been adopted, we'll hold decision-makers to account and make sure that plans are delivered in partnership with the local community.
Strengthen our network
We'll strengthen our network by developing our skills, confidence and connections with each other and with the wider climate movement. We'll work to increase the diversity in our network and work to become an actively anti-racist network.
Networked change campaign
We can only achieve long-term, systemic change if we build and utilise people power. Politicians won’t make the bold choices we need them to make unless they see a groundswell of public opinion, backed up by coordinated pressure from the people who vote for them. If we're to achieve the big changes our planet desperately needs us to, we must focus on building and using our people power more strategically than ever before.
We're therefore running a "networked change" campaign, where a network of independent groups – Climate Action groups – unite behind one centralised strategy, adapting and owning this strategy within our own communities and coming together at key moments to show our united strength.
Our campaign for 2021 will focus on securing ambitious and robust Climate Action Plans from our local and regional leaders. These efforts will be supported by moments of unity, when the whole network comes together to take action, showing our collective strength and demanding UK-wide climate action.
1. Climate Action Plans
Over the past 18 months, decision-makers across the country have been queuing up to declare climate emergencies. And while some of these leaders have begun to put their words into action, many have yet to do so. We must turn their promises into urgent action.
Throughout 2021, Climate Action groups will continue to push our councils, mayors and devolved governments to adopt and implement Climate Action Plans. We'll make sure these Climate Action Plans are ambitious, robust and fair, and critically that they're delivered.
We've created template Climate Action Plans for:
You can find lots of guidance on how to plan and deliver your own campaign for Climate Action Plans on our campaign guide page.
2. Moments of unity
Moments of unity allow us to demonstrate the power of our network and use this power to push for greater climate action. Previous moments of unity have included the 2019 general election, and the green and fair recovery mobilisation in autumn 2020.
This year we'll have two moments of unity – the elections in May and the COP26 climate talks in November. See the "Our moments" section below for more information.
Throughout the year, our friends in other networks will also organise moments – such as Global Climate Strikes and anti-racism demonstrations – and we should be ready to give our support wherever possible.
Who we are
Climate Action groups are made up of people in communities who are passionate about tackling the climate crisis. Our network of groups is made up of existing community groups who register to be part of the network (such as faith groups, Friends of the Earth local groups and anti-fracking groups), and brand new groups that have formed under the Climate Action banner. At the time of writing (February 2021), there are 239 registered Climate Action groups – 78 new groups and 161 pre-existing ones.
Over the past 18 months, our network has grown hugely. Our priority for 2021 will be to strengthen – rather than expand – our network, and ensure we all have the skills, confidence and connections to grow our networks locally, and secure Climate Action Plans from our leaders.
Diversity and representation
Just like the wider environmental movement, our network is not yet representative of the UK population. The Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 reinforced the need for our network to reflect on our lack of diversity, and to work hard to ensure we actively oppose racism in all our practices and campaigns.
We must make sure our network is a welcoming and empowering space for all, and in particular ensure that the voices of people from Black and minority ethnic communities and young people are amplified.
In 2021 we'll be rolling out training for our network on how to become anti-racist. This will give us a better understanding of how racism shows up in our work, as well as some practical tools to make sure we're putting inclusive behaviours in place when we organise with our groups. We’ll also be sharing a suite of resources to support us to become an anti-racist network, including a race and climate hub and examples of anti-racist campaigns and work already happening across the network.
Our role in the movement
Over the past 2 years, we've seen a huge increase in the number of people taking action to tackle the climate crisis, with the youth strikers and Extinction Rebellion inspiring thousands of people to get involved. It’s crucial that our Climate Action network understands its place in – and contribution to – the wider movement.
Our network must be complementary to the work of other groups. The Climate Action network hopes to attract people who are passionate about working with their communities to tackle the climate crisis and who want to build a fairer, greener country together. We hope to attract people who've never been involved in climate action before, and who would prefer their activism to remain within the law. We hope to attract people who are looking for a space to promote and demand positive solutions to the climate crisis, both at the local and national level. And we hope to create a safe and inclusive space where everyone is valued and can contribute.
The Climate Action network is supported by Friends of the Earth, and we aim to leverage the power of Friends of the Earth as a national organisation, with its large supporter base and the expertise of its policy, research, campaigning, media and communication teams.
Throughout all our work, we must continue to work closely with our friends across the movement, who share the same values and goals as we do. We must be generous with our time and expertise, and make sure we listen to and learn from others.
Council, metro mayor and Senedd elections (6 May 2021)
On 6 May 2021, elections will take place across 150 councils, 7 metro mayoral regions, the London Mayor and Assembly in England, and the Senedd in Wales. These elections provide an important opportunity to secure bold climate commitments from candidates. We have produced guidance to help groups make the most of this opportunity. This includes how to secure pledges, how to have successful lobbying meetings, and how to organise an online hustings. Read the full guidance here.
COP26 Glasgow (1-13 November)
In November, COP26 will be coming to Glasgow. COP is the yearly meeting of the international body that sets the trajectory of national and international climate policy for years to come. COP26 is a huge opportunity to shine a light on the actions of governments. And crucially, to come together to show the strength of our movements. Together, we’ll come up with ways that Climate Action groups can take action and mobilise across the country, online and in Glasgow. We’ll explore international climate issues, forge connections, and strengthen the UK and international climate justice movement throughout 2021 and beyond.
You're part of a network of over 240 groups, made up of talented and skilled people who can offer peer support. The place to access this is Slack – a simple online communication tool. The central support team will also post updates and messages on Slack and be on hand to answer any questions you have – so it’s crucial that you join up. Join Slack here.
We have a staff team of expert organisers across the country, ready to support groups to take climate action. If you don’t know who your assigned contact is, ask on Slack or email [email protected].
Training and webinars
Throughout the year we'll be hosting training and webinars so that we all feel confident in our campaigning. You can find these by visiting our webinars page. We’ll also send invites via email and Slack.
Groups can apply for up to £500 per year to help organise campaigning activities. You can find details on our funding page.
There's a whole range of resources and guides on this website. If you can’t find the resource you’re looking for, try using the search function (top right) or ask on Slack and we’ll try to help.
We’ll send you regular emails (about once a week) to share the latest Climate Action news. Make sure you’re signed up by filling in our simple opt-in form.
If you have any ideas about how we can improve the support provided to Climate Action groups, we’d love to hear them. Please email [email protected].