Press releases

COP26 Open letter to Boris Johnson

We’re asking the Prime Minister to take bold decisions during COP26, that will define our futures.

22 October 2021

Woman wearing a red and white head scarf holding a child in Somaliland

PRESS RELEASE – 25 October 2021

Dear Prime Minister,

Would you agree that there’s no place like home?

I’m the Chief Executive of ShelterBox, a charity providing emergency shelter after disaster. Our data predicts that extreme weather will destroy 167 million homes around the world by 2040. That’s the equivalent of all the homes in the UK wiped out six times.

Human-driven global heating is causing unprecedented, accelerating and, in some cases, irreversible damage. The vast majority of these homes are in places where UK aid has made a vital difference to the lives of vulnerable people most affected by our changing climate.

Things weren’t looking hopeful for action on the climate crisis this summer. Underwhelming G7 outcomes in June gave way to a shocking wake-up call from the IPCC report in August. Now we hear, that despite committing to climate leadership, aid spending is to be further cut. We cannot afford another year of this kind of news. In November, the world is looking to you to lead the way. The year must end with positivity and leadership on the human consequences of climate change.

I represent over 30,000 people demanding our global leaders take urgent and far-reaching action at COP26. You must push through changes that will define and defend all our futures, here and abroad.

We owe it to every generation, present and future, to show robust leadership, make bold decisions and follow-up with action.


We ask you to:

1. Recognise the human crisis and provide emergency shelter, right now

You must recognise the current human crisis caused by our warming climate. UK aid cuts to humanitarian aid spending must be urgently reversed.

Extreme weather displaced over 30 million people last year. Commit to providing emergency shelter aid to make a real and practical difference. Home is a place of safety and dignity; a place to cook, sleep, shelter and to recover. It is an essential first step on the road to recovery and independence, particularly for women and girls.

Iota was the strongest hurricane of 2020. It ripped apart Roxana’s home and swamped it with mud. Roxana and her two daughters escaped with their lives, sheltering on the very top of the roof. ‘Everything that we worked very hard for was lost.’ Roxana said. Afterwards, they lived in a shelter made of palm leaves for a month. ‘It was not good,’ she said.

Using tarpaulins, tools and other aid, Roxana’s family could start again. ‘We were able to start cleaning and preparing to fix our home,’ she said. From there, her children could start to go to school, and she could rebuild her life.

UK Aid can make that tangible difference to lives affected by climate related weather.


2. Support vulnerable communities against future disasters

Commit climate funding to long-term, local projects that help people adapt their homes and communities. People must be better prepared for future disasters with disaster-resilient housing, sustainable livelihoods and improved warning systems. Even if we meet ambitious emissions targets, vulnerable communities will continue to need this support.

The UK must increase funding commitments for disaster anticipation and include more preparedness projects to help local communities become more resilient to climate disasters. This should be part of the spending in every country where UKAid provides vital humanitarian assistance.

3. Work with global leaders and lead the way

Climate change is borderless. There is one planet, and no country can escape the consequences of global inaction. We call on you to work with leading economies to prioritise sustainable resilience-building for vulnerable communities. International cooperation has the power to achieve so much. Governments must work together to share technology, knowledge, funding and experience.


Prime Minister, you and I know the importance of home. In the wake of a disaster like a hurricane, flood or drought, people cannot build resilience and make progress with no place to call home. Because when you have a home, hope follows. 


Yours sincerely,


Sanj Srikanthan,  

Chief Executive, ShelterBox, and the thousands of people who signed our petition.