MORE than 400 female leaders, celebrities, activists and academics from across the world have written to Boris Johnson to demand equal representation at the highest level of the COP26 climate summit.

In September, it was revealed that not one of the top positions at the key Glasgow summit was to be filled by a woman.

At the time, the SNP branded the UK Government’s all-male team an “unthinkable” exclusion of women, and said moving towards gender balance was the “least it could do”.

In late November, the COP26 top team had been expanded to include two women. In a team of 13, this was equal to just 15% of the top roles.

READ MORE: Westminster urged to U-turn on 'unthinkable' decision to exclude women

Those women were Fiona Clouder, a former ambassador to Chile and top diplomat, and Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the Tory MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed who has been vocal in her support for fracking, opposition to wind farms, and has “consistently voted against measures to prevent climate change”, according to MP vote aggregator They Work For You.

The UK Government say they have since expanded the team even further, so that 45% of the top management are women.

Now, in a letter to the Prime Minister, hundreds of international female leaders have written to demand that the remaining imbalance be “addressed with urgency to ensure that women are fairly represented”.

Signatories include former Irish president Mary Robinson, Laurence Tubiana, a French economist who was a key architect of the Paris Agreement, Nobel peace prize winner Jody Williams, and actress and activist Emma Thompson.

The letter says that women are the “shock absorbers” of climate change, outlining how its “impacts disproportionately hit their livelihoods and food security, drive up levels of the violence they experience, and hold them back from engaging in education and the green economy”.

It goes on: “For the UK as the host country to neglect to take a stand on strengthening women’s voices in the international climate debate would be a step backwards for climate justice and a failure of responsibility to put together the strongest and best equipped team.

“There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that an all-male leadership of the UK-hosted climate talks in 2021 will not be as respected and effective as a gender balanced team, and that we need the concerns, attitudes, talents and leadership of women represented.”

READ MORE: All-male COP26 team slammed as 'implicit failure' of Westminster Government

The letter outlines three key demands:

"1. A balanced representation of men and women at the high-level team for COP26. Embrace women’s equal participation and support gender equality (GAP). COP26 approach is transparent and accountable.

2. Show global leadership by ensuring the UK’s updated Nationally Determined Contribution includes a gender analysis and commitment to tackling gender inequality via action on reducing emissions.

3. Ensure climate finance is gender inclusive (developing minimum standards) to increase accessibility to finance for women-led and women’s rights organisations addressing climate change impacts on the front line.”

The letter concludes by saying: “We are a female team of high level players ready to provide their input, and provide transparency and accountability working alongside existing leadership members of the team. We are ready to step up now. We await your reply.”

Members of the public are invited to support the campaign on social media using #SHEChangesClimate and to follow the campaign @sheclimate on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

A UK Government spokesperson said: “The UK is committed to championing diversity and inclusivity throughout our COP26 presidency, and our vast network of leaders, diplomatic representatives and expert voices reflect this.

"In line with the Gender Action Plan agreed at COP25, the UK recognises that the full, meaningful and equal participation and leadership of women in climate policy is vital for achieving long-term climate goals." 

In response, SheChangesClimate told The National accepted that the team was now more gender-balanced, but said it "goes from predominantly male [at the top] to predominantly female [at the bottom] and yet they think this is ok? It just demonstrates the problem!"

They added: "This is our point we don’t just want women at the top we want to see them at the front, speaking and leading. This is not good enough.

"We need 50/50 women at the top lending their voice and their perspective to the framing and narrative of the agenda."