COP26: How climate change is thought to be affecting the North East and North Yorkshire

World leaders have arrived in Glasgow for COP26, the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Their mission? To discuss how best to reduce greenhouse gases across the globe and deliver on the goals laid out in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

“It’s one minute to midnight and we need to act now," said Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the historic event commenced.

The COP27 climate conference - what you need to know

What is COP27? 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.

COP27 is the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties summit which will be held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt from November 6-18.

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 COP27:

  • UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is attending the conference, after initially saying he wouldn't as he was too busy focusing on the economy within his first weeks in office.

  • US President Joe Biden and his experienced climate envoy, John Kerry, will appear at the talks.

  • France President Emmanuel Macron will also be among the heads of state from around the world staying in Egypt.

King Charles III will not be attending COP27, despite being a staunch advocate for the environment. The decision was made jointly by Buckingham Palace and former prime minister Liz Truss.

Elsewhere, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping will not attend the talks just as they decided to do for COP26.

Back to top

What is it hoping to achieve?

1. Ensure full implementation of the Paris Agreement and putting negotiations into concrete actions - included within this is the target of limiting global warming to well below 2C.

2. Cementing progress on the critical workstreams of mitigation, adaptation, finance and loss and damage, while stepping up finance notably to tackle the impacts of climate change.

3. Enhancing the delivery of the principles of transparency and accountability throughout the UN Climate Change process.

Back to top

Highest among the conference's priorities is to develop a more detailed plan to keep global warming below 1.5°C on pre-industrial levels - or 2°C at the very least.

According to United Nations experts, it is at this point that global warming will have a truly catastrophic impact on food production, water reserves, biodiversity and sea level rise.

But here in the North East of England, people from a wide variety of professions and backgrounds say climate change has already made life harder for humans and wildlife.

They are calling for changes to be made before it is too late.


Back in February, much of Richard Bramley's Kelfield farm was underwater.

Richard Bramley's farm in February 2021

After a sustained period of heavy rain, the River Ouse burst its banks. A large portion of Mr Bramley's crop was destroyed.

He is in agreement with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in believing incidents like these are becoming more regular as a result of climate change.

"Since 2007, I wouldn’t say it’s almost been an annual event but it’s starting to become that way," he says.


The North East of England is famous for its unique and charismatic wildlife.

Large populations of grey seals and puffins entertain international tourists while a colony of kittiwakes has settled down on the Tyne Bridge and Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art.

All have become symbols of the region and showcase a degree of biodiversity. But, according to zoologist Professor Mike Jeffries at the Northumberland Wildlife Trust, they are at risk of serious decline due to rising temperatures and resultant storms.

Large numbers of crustaceans and sea birds have been found dead along the Teesside and Northumberland coastline in recent weeks.

No clear link has yet been drawn to climate change or other human causes such as pollution.

Air pollution

Newcastle is a car-loving city, with almost 100,000 registered vehicles serving a population of just three times that many people. More than half of all journeys are made in private vehicles.

But though convenient, cars account for 20% of the city's carbon emissions and help place Newcastle among the worst polluted cities in Europe - though the City Council contest this claim.

The link between air pollution and health problems is well-documented.

Seventy-three-year-old asthmatic Violet Rook measure pollution levels on her residential street. She is concerned about the dangers posed not only to her but to young people who live near her.

Newcastle and Gateshead council officials intend to introduce 'clean air zones', but Dr Sara Walkers, Director of The Centre for Energy at Newcastle University, is urging motorists to wean themselves away from car travel.

"Everything that we do makes a difference in terms of the overall impact on our climate," she says.