News Round-Up

Nation’s largest landowners join government in unprecedented summit to tackle climate crisis

The National Trust is bringing England’s largest landowners together for a one-day summit to debate a range of climate change commitments ahead of COP26, helping government reach its net zero target and fast-track urgently needed adaptation measures

The organisations collectively care for more than 60% of England and will lay the groundwork for a deal to ensure they are working alongside nature as effectively as possible to tackle the climate crisis. 

Defra minister Jo Churcher will also attend the one-day summit at the National Trust’s Wimpole Estate, which will be a vital stepping-stone towards the forthcoming COP26 conference in Glasgow, where world leaders will aim to agree on a set of targets to tackle the worldwide threat. 

Among those attending include RSPB, NFU, church commissioners, the Duchy of Cornwall, National Parks, Soil Association, The Wildlife Trusts and Woodland Trust.

The meeting will explore what more landowners and land managers can do at “ground level” to work alongside nature to mitigate the impact of the changing climate, while ensuring optimal use of land.

Some of the issues that will be discussed will focus on creating more woodland, restoring peatlands, reconnecting rivers and preventing flooding and the management of coastal erosion. 

Following the summit, it is hoped that attendees will sign up to six climate and nature-based solutions that demonstrate a commitment to collectively playing a part in the nation’s net zero aims and pressing needs to adapt to a rapidly changing climate. 

The six targets will: 

1. Take meaningful action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to ensure a net gain in carbon sequestration.

2. Create or restore homes for wildlife that support nature’s recovery 

3. Be designed, implemented and managed in consultation with local communities 

4. Deliver benefits for people at a local and a national level

5. Consider the location, ecology and surrounding landscape to ensure multiple benefits.

6. Be future-proofed and managed so they are climate resilient for generations to come.

National Trust Director General Hilary McGrady said: “We are bringing some of the nation’s biggest landowners together ahead of COP to discuss what actions we can each take at ground level to tackle the climate change threat and restore nature.

“The UK’s Climate Change Committee is clear that ‘a transformation in the use of land’ is needed if we are to meet our Net Zero target. Those attending the summit have the power to lead that transformation. Only by working together will be able to lock up enough carbon in the English countryside to meet the government’s ambition for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and prepare our cherished landscapes and nature for the worsening impacts of climate change. 

“The National Trust is working with and for nature by committing to large-scale habitat restoration, a major tree-planting programme and an ambitious net zero target 

“However, we recognise that our position as a conservation charity is different to other landowners, so by bringing people together we can discuss the commitments we can each make – and debate any blockers to more ambitious action.”

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “Our landowners and managers are a key part of delivering the Government’s commitment to achieving Net Zero by 2050, protecting 30% of our land by 2030, and halting species decline. 

“With less than a month until we host the crucial COP26 climate summit, it is more important than ever that we are demonstrating UK leadership and are working together to the address the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss.”

Header image: National Trust Images.