COP26 is a global United Nations (UN) summit focused on climate change and how countries around the world plan to tackle it. COP stands for Conference of the Parties. The 2021 conference will be the 26th meeting, which is why it's called COP26. It will be attended by countries that signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1994. More than 120 world leaders are expected to attend.
When is COP26 taking place?
The COP26 summit is being jointly hosted by the UK and Italy. It takes place in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12 2021. It is the biggest summit the UK has ever hosted – between 25,000 and 30,000 people in total are expected to attend.
The conference is usually held every year. However, it was delayed by 12 months due to the COVID pandemic. As the host country, the UK will hold the COP presidency. British politician Alok Sharma is the appointed full-time President for COP 26.
Why is COP26 important?
Carbon emissions caused by fossil fuels means the world is getting warmer. The past decade was the warmest on record, and governments around the world agree that urgent action needs to be taken.
COP26 is the most significant climate conference since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. This was when all the signatories to the UNFCC agreed to limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.
Discussions at COP26 are likely to focus on whether the commitments being made to cut emissions will be enough to stop temperatures rising and keep the world on track to reach net zero by 2050. It will also highlight the need to transition from fossil fuel to clean power, to accelerate the transition to low carbon vehicles and to protect and restore nature.
What can we expect from COP26?
At the conference, world leaders will report on the progress they have made on reducing carbon emissions since the Paris Agreement (which was signed five years ago).
Decisions will also be made on how we can accelerate a global reduction in emissions faster. Countries have been asked to submit new Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Plus, they are required to present ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets that align with reaching Net Zero by the middle of the century.
The COP26 summit will also see the start of discussions on how ‘Nature-based Solutions’ can be integrated into strategies for climate mitigation. This will focus on how eco-systems and agricultural practices provide climate solutions for absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere.
Discussions will also take place on how to provide financial support to the countries worst affected by the climate crisis.
Is there anything controversial about COP26?
Yes! A global coalition of climate organisations wanted to delay COP26. This was because they felt unequal access to COVID vaccines would make it impossible for developing countries to be fairly represented at the summit.
Travel restrictions have also made it hard for countries to attend – which means some of the world’s most polluting countries will also not be attending in person. Plus many prominent world leaders will not be attending in person.
One of the most controversial items on the agenda is the rules for carbon markets. It has been bought forward from previous COP meetings. COP26 will look at the rules that will govern how emissions are traded between states and companies.
Why should I pay attention to media coverage of COP26?
Here at Priva, we will be tuned into the COP26 Climate Summit. Our company has always been focused on delivering sustainability and we are committed to slowing the pace of climate change. We are excited to see what can be achieved when the world comes together.
If you are reading this blog and wondering if you should make time to watch coverage of COP26, we say YES! This is the most important Climate Summit in the world and change can only happen if we all take an interest and play a part in making it happen. Exciting times ahead!