Urge COP26 leaders to empower women and girls

The crucial UN climate change conference, COP26, from 1-12 November in Glasgow must lead to more action to empower women and girls.

Sign our petition to COP26 President Alok Sharma MP!

Governments all over the world have launched plans to tackle the climate crisis, but one driver is all too often absent from policy discussions - the rapid and ongoing growth of the human population. Our growing numbers exacerbate future climate threats both by increasing emissions and by destroying urgently needed carbon sinks through deforestation and land degradation.

The immediate climate change priority is the urgent implementation of solutions which will be maximally effective over the coming decade, and governments must step up the ambition and urgency of their actions. They must also recognise that slowing and ending population growth is essential if we are to continue to bring emissions down over the following decades, and keep them down.

The empowerment of women and girls is critical to achieving that goal. In a 2020 review of all available climate solutions, Project Drawdown found that women's and girls' empowerment through education and reproductive health would save 85.4 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide by 2050, because of its positive effects in reducing population growth. This makes it the second most powerful solution to limit warming to 2°C of all those they examined.

Please help ensure globally beneficial, empowering population solutions, including removing barriers to family planning and girls' education, are not left behind.

Dear Mr Sharma,

Given the increasing urgency of the climate crisis, it is vital that the UK Government hosts a COP26 that deals with all possible solutions. Indeed, the UK COP26 website states that "the UN negotiations are consensus-based, and reaching agreement will depend on leaving no issue behind". The Government must therefore accept that population growth is among the drivers of the climate crisis, and acknowledge that slowing it through the empowerment of women and girls can play a critical role in reducing emissions and maximising the effectiveness of all other climate solutions.  It will also increase climate resilience in communities across the world, and directly improve lives.

We, the undersigned, therefore call on you to help tackle the climate crisis by:

  • ensuring that action to empower women and girls, including meeting the need for voluntary, modern family planning, is given due weight and consideration at COP26, and is included in the final deal.
  • fostering agreement at COP26 and beyond on financing policies which empower women and girls globally to respond to the climate crisis, including through choosing smaller families.
  • working with your colleagues in the UK Government to reverse its damaging funding cut to Overseas Development Assistance for family planning.

Thank you for your support.

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