UK government committing £165m to boost gender equality and climate action

Little Amal, a 3.5-metre-tall puppet of a nine-year-old Syrian girl, is travelling 8,000km in support of refugees. Credit: PA

Around £165 million is going towards boosting equality for women and climate action as COP26 talks focus on gender, the government has said.

Women are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, as they form a majority of the world’s poor, often dependent on small-scale farming for their livelihoods and can comprise 80% of those displaced by climate-related disasters.

But addressing inequalities faced by women and girls can help to tackle climate change, officials said.

Ministers said the £165 million included £45 million to help groups in Asia and the Pacific challenge gender inequalities and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

And £120 million would be used to build resilience to climate change, prevent pollution, protect wildlife, boost renewable energy and manage waste, as well as support women’s leadership, access to finance, education and skills in Bangladesh.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “It is women, girls and those who are already most marginalised, that will be most severely impacted by climate change.

The COP26 climate conference - what you need to know

What is COP26? When and where will it be?

Each year, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meets at what is called the Conference of the Parties (abbreviated as COP) to discuss the world's progress on climate change and how to tackle it.

COP26 is the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties summit which will be held in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November.

Who is going?

Leaders of the 197 countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – a treaty that came into force in 1994 - are invited to the summit.

These are some of the world leaders that will be attending COP26:

  • US President Joe Biden, climate envoy John Kerry, climate adviser and former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, and 10 other US cabinet officials.

  • Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison. In the days leading up to COP26, Mr Morrison committed Australia to a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Prince Charles, Prince William, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge are also attending. The Queen has withdrawn from visiting after being advised by her doctors to rest - she will address the conference virtually instead.

China's President Xi Jinping, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, and President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil are among the leaders that have decided not to travel to Glasgow.

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What is it hoping to achieve?

1. Achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels - Countries are being encouraged to set ambitious 2030 emissions targets. They are also encouraged to accelerate the phase-out of coal, clamp down on deforestation, speed up the switch to electric vehicles and encourage investment in renewables.

2. Protect natural habitats and communities from climate change disasters

3. Finances for a greener future - In 2009, developed countries were asked to keep to their promises to contribute at least $100 billion (£72.5 billion) per year by 2020 to protect the planet. In 2015, it was agreed that the goal would be extended to 2025.

However, new analysis shows the goal is unlikely to have been met last year and is on track to fall short in 2021 and 2022.

4. Getting all countries and organisations to work together to tackle the climate crisis

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“But they also have a critical role to play to address the climate crisis.

“The UK is committed to addressing this dual challenge head on, committing new funding to empower communities and women’s groups to take locally-led adaptation action, to build local, national and global resilience”.

At an event at the COP26 talks, featuring Little Amal a 3.5-metre puppet travelling 8,000km in support of refugees, ministers and others will discuss new action to tackle gender issues around climate change, while countries are expected to announce new gender and climate commitments.