10 big wins. How we're making progress on climate change.

Together we've been winning big for a safer climate.
  Published:  09 Aug 2017    |      4 minute read

Millions of friends of the Earth – all over the world – have been achieving extraordinary victories in the fight against climate change, including:

  • 200,000 people across the UK uniting to win the world’s first climate law
  • Local efforts to prevent fracking in the UK for more than half a decade
  • Public pressure forcing 2 giant oil firms to pull out of drilling in the Adriatic Sea
  • A successful campaign to derail a coal-fired power station in Indonesia

What are we doing about climate change in the UK?

We're campaigning for clever solutions – like renewable energy – that can help us avoid climate breakdown and improve people's quality of life. We’re helping people fight off polluting developments on their doorstep. From cleaner air to warmer homes, we've argued that what's good for the planet is good for people too.

And with our international network we've brought together millions of people who care about social and environmental justice.

The actions we take individually – like eating less meat or changing light bulbs – are important. But on their own they're not enough. So time and again we've come together to demand that our elected representatives change the things individuals can't: from better public transport, to flood protection, to the way our energy is generated.

Here's a taste of what we've achieved together in the past 10 years.

1. Climate Change Act

We created the campaign for the UK Climate Change Act 2008. With hundreds of thousands of people we persuaded the government to adopt this ground-breaking legislation. The law commits the UK to cutting its carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. Countries across the world have followed by introducing their own climate laws.

photo of peaceful march with Big Ask campaign banners
The Big Ask campaign saw hundreds of thousands of people calling for a climate law

2. Free from fracking

We’ve been supporting local communities who’ve been taking a stand against fracking. Despite enormous government backing for the fracking industry, only one well has been fracked in the past 7 years.

photo of protestors against fracking
Fracking protest, Lancashire

3. Cash back for clean energy

We led the campaign to introduce renewable energy feed-in-tariffs (FITs). FITs ensure that people get paid for the electricity they produce from solar panels on homes, schools and businesses. There are three-quarters of a million roofs in the UK with solar panels as a direct result of this campaign.

4. Green Investment Bank

We started the campaign for the Green Investment Bank, which has led to billions of pounds of investment in green industry.

5. Paris climate agreement

The poorest countries are suffering the worst impacts of climate change – even though they are the least responsible for causing it. They can't cope with the loss and damage they suffer from extreme weather events and sea level rises. We led the international civil society campaigns to get Loss and Damage recognised in the Paris Agreement – and the 1.5°C global warming target.

Christiana Figueres, the UN official who led the talks, attributes the successes of the Paris Agreement to civil society pressure.

With our global network, Friends of the Earth International, we channeled public pressure on politicians throughout 2015. Thousands of people took part, visiting their MP, turning out at rallies, and making the journey to Paris. We brought together conservation groups, faith organisations, and trade unions – uniting millions of people behind a clear call to protect our climate.

6. Protecting people from flooding

Flooding is increasing in the UK because of climate change. Working with badly-affected communities, we ramped up pressure on the government. As a direct result of our campaigning the government raised its flood spending – including a new £15-million pot for natural flood measures such as tree-planting in the uplands. This will address flood risk and boost biodiversity.

photo of flooded farm
Flooded farm in Somerset, UK, 2014.

7. Warmer homes

Uniting with student groups, housing charities and health organisations, we challenged the scandal of landlords renting out cold accommodation – homes so poorly insulated they were classified as a health and safety hazard.

We put a spotlight on people forced to choose between heating and eating. And we persuaded politicians to introduce a minimum energy-efficiency standard for private-rented homes. Private rentals are often in the worst condition and are home to many of our most vulnerable citizens.

From 1 April 2018, letting properties with the worst energy efficiency rating – without undertaking improvements like loft and cavity-wall insulation – will be an offence.

8. Opposing dirty development

We've got behind community groups fighting off major fossil fuel developments – providing them with planning, legal and campaign expertise. This includes in Nant Llesg, Wales, where a coal-mine application was thrown out; and at Druridge Bay in Northumberland, where a decision on an opencast mine is imminent.

We worked with local people in the Rhymney Valley and Merthyr Tydfil to prevent the largest incinerator in the UK landing at their doorstep.

We've trained more than 300 people to help them defeat dirty development via the planning system. And we have more than 30 cases where we're helping communities oppose dirty energy schemes.

photo of people cheering
Locals welcome the decision to turn down a new opencast coal mine in Nant Llesg, Wales.

And let's not forget the amazing work – sometimes at great personal risk – that Friends of the Earth groups around the world undertake fighting off dirty fossil fuel developments.

A coal-fired power plant in Indonesia was destroying the lives and livelihoods of local villagers. But "WALHI" (Friends of the Earth Indonesia) campaigned successfully to get the plant's permit revoked. It must now immediately stop all activity and pull out of the area.

WAHLI – and other activists – also won a major court case against the Indonesian government over its role in devastating forest fires in 2015. It is believed that most of the fires were started deliberately by companies to clear land for farming. 100,000 deaths have been linked to the fires. The court win paves the way for better protections.

A coalition of environment groups including "Zelena akcija" (Friends of the Earth Croatia) is running an incredible campaign to protect the Adriatic Sea from oil drilling. The Croatian public have got right behind it – and already deterred 2 oil giants from drilling there.

9. Solar power for schools

Our Run on Sun schools project gave thousands of schools the know-how to install solar panels on their buildings. It also helped raise awareness of climate change and renewable energy in primary schools.

photo of primary school children and teacher in class
Children from Reay Primary School, London, creating an entry for our solar schools competition

10. Getting investment out of fossil fuels

We're part of an expanding global alliance – persuading financial institutions to move their investments out of dirty energy. This is also known as divesting. Two of the first UK examples of divestment by local authority pension funds were led by Friends of the Earth groups: Tottenham & Wood Green, and Waltham Forest.

Without the support of thousands of people like you, none of this work would be possible. Thank you.