In November at COP26 the climate movement here and globally will be out in force, challenging the green rhetoric, empty promises and hypocrisy of governments and big business.
Here in Birmingham and the West Midlands the COP26 Coalition WM is bringing together dozens of activists and organisations for actions between now and Nov 6, when there are likely to be demonstrations in Birmingham and other WM towns.
What is the relationship between the national COP26 Coalition policies and those specific to the WMids?
We are a COP26 Coalition local group, so we have to combine campaigning for the Coalition’s national policies with specific local ones. The national policies, signed by over 30 organisations, have a strong emphasis on climate justice and finance – see https://cop26coalition.org/resource/the-road-to-our-resilience-is-paved-by-climate-justice-cop26-coalition-g7-statement/
Focusing locally on the West Midlands Combined Authority
The WMCA is the overarching government structure for our region. The problem is that WMCA is essentially a coalition between national government, local politicians (including a Tory Mayor) and local business, and as such it largely excludes any meaningful public participation. Climate is a case in point: the WMCA has an Environment & Energy Board comprising 8 Councillors, the Chair of Energy Capital in the West Midlands (a partnership of business, LAs, academics and entrepreneurs), and the Area Environment Manager. It is essentially run by officers. There are no representatives of climate campaigns, community organisations or trade unions. It has met just 3 times so far this year.
We need to assess the current climate policies of the WMCA in order to support what we agree with, strengthen what needs strengthening, and oppose what we don’t agree with. Central are issues such as building retrofitting and transport – WMCA/TfWM are responsible for regional transport. We also need to challenge HS2 and airport expansion.
One key demand on the WMCA is for a much more democratic and participatory approach. Their climate strategy ‘WM2041: a programme for implementing an environmental recovery’ – https://governance.wmca.org.uk/documents/s4200/WM2041%20Appendix.pdf – talks about public engagement and transparency, and we should hold them to their word. A key demand is to set up a broad Climate Taskforce or Forum body with representatives of climate campaigns, community organisations and trade unions, along with councillors on the Environment & Energy Board, and meeting regularly in public.
The next Planning Meeting of COP26 Coalition WM is on Tue 24th
On 18th Aug over 40 people discussed plans for 6th Nov and shared lots of useful information about other events and various campaign links. However we did not reach any firm conclusions, so we’re convening another zoom meeting on Tuesday 24th Aug at 7pm. Please book here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/cop26-coalition-west-midlands-action-planning-for-6th-nov-tickets-167788041549
To help reach a consensus on Tuesday, some of the organisers have written a short (2 sides) discussion paper “discussion paper for 24th Aug.pdf“. The file can be downloaded from this shared online folder dedicated to COP26CWM: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1Py1TtLPCOpYBccEpVzyMCT-1oCcOMJVl?usp=sharing
Notes from the meeting on the 18th are also in the folder, including a calendar of known events and contact details for people offering to work on specific campaign tasks, such as letter writing. “WM COP 26 Coalition 180821 notes final.pdf”.