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Business leaders and celebrities join forces ahead of COP26

Founder of organic veg box company Riverford Guy Singh-Watson and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood are among 30 business leaders and celebrities who will release a self-penned ‘Letter to the Earth’ in this week’s countdown before the pivotal COP26 climate talks.

Singh-Watson and Westwood filmed their letters at Shakespeare’s Globe last week for a film to be screened at the talks in Glasgow, where they were joined by others including chief responsible investment officer at Aviva Investors, Steve Waygood, chief executive of ethical bank, Bevis Watts, Booker Prize-winning author Ben Okri and TV presenter Laura Whitmore.

The letters will also be published one a day online, beginning with Whitmore’s today (25 October). Singh-Watson’s letter will be published on Wicked Leeks in full on Thursday 28 October.

Themes from business leaders include a call to tax fossil fuels from Singh-Watson, and a pronouncement that “the time for polite challenge and having hushed conversations in back rooms is over” from Triodos boss Watts. Designer and activist Westwood used her letter to advocate for a land-based economy, to rewild and open up the land corridors for wildlife.

Guy Singh-Watson
'Tax fossil fuels' - Riverford's Guy Singh-Watson letter will be published on Wicked Leeks this Thursday, 28 Oct. 

Singh-Watson said: “We have known what needs to be done for decades; now we have to find the technical solutions and the collective will to do it. Simply put, we need governments to find the courage to tax carbon at its true environmental cost and the problem could be solved very quickly.

“Fossil fuels currently cause 89 per cent of global warming. Reducing their use, by making them more expensive, as quickly and effectively as possible is all that matters in the urgent fight to prevent climate catastrophe. The tragedy of delay is hard to bear, but it will be harder for our children and our planet.”

Waygood said: “There is enough money to stop climate change. There is enough scientific evidence that we have to. There is even enough political will. Morally, societally, economically, financially, everyone now needs to do everything we possibly can. How else will we be able to look our children in the eye?”

The aim of the campaign, which has received letters from the likes of Yoko Ono and actors Mark Rylance and Emma Thompson since its launch in 2019, is to amplify calls worldwide by people from all walks of life for ambitious and courageous action on climate change.

Vivienne
Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood is among the celebrities to join the campaign. 

“We are seeing leaders speak from the heart to engage their business communities, who as we know are so instrumental in making a more rapid transition possible,” said campaign coordinator, Jon Slack, Campaign Co-ordinator.

“We have seen that these Letters can help cut through much of the noise and numbers and offer a more human and heartfelt perspective of the people behind key decisions at COP26.”

Beginning on 31 October and running for two weeks, the COP26 climate talks are seen as the last change for world leaders to agree on how to keep global warming within the 1.5 degrees required before we are unable to adapt.

People are invited to write, record and share their own Letters to the Earth to share what matters to them and their vision for change, either by using the hashtag #LettersToTheEarth or submitting them via the website.

Follow us on Twitter or sign up to our weekly email for updates from Wicked Leeks columnist and special reporter on the ground at COP26, Louise Gray. 

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