What Is COP 26 And Why Is It So Important?

Unless you've been hibernating under your duvet with no contact with the outside world, you'll no doubt have heard something about COP 26 in the last week or so. If you're still left wondering what COP 26 is exactly it's a major united nations climate summit. It's being hosted by the UK in Glasgow between 31st October and 12th November 2021 and is named as such due to being the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties, COP 26 for short. The conference is for the countries to come together and discuss how to tackle climate change and to agree on global and national targets. 

COP26 Glasgow 2021

It is expected that over 30,000 delegates from countries around the world will meet and contribute to the "formal events" in the blue zone. This is where climate experts, policy makers, campaigners and world leaders will debate the issues in order to make important global progress on the future of climate change. It is the first time such an event has been hosted in the UK. 

Why Is COP26 So Important? 

COP 26 is so important because:

  • It will finish the work that was unable to conclude from COP 25.
  • From 2021 the 2015 Paris agreement will be the key driver to all important climate change action, internationally. 
  • 2021 is when all countries will be asked to submit their long term goals.
  • Ambition to address the global climate emergency will be high on the agenda.

What's Changed Since The Last COP? 

Apart from anything, the window for taking action has narrowed significantly. In August the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) release the latest update in its comprehensive report on Climate Science. The report warned that there is a 50/50 chance the average global temperature will exceed 1.5c above pre-industry levels in the next 20 years. Limiting this will not be possible with major global changes to reduce greenhouse gases. 

One major change since the last COP is the return of the United States to an active role in addressing climate change. Not only is their government pushing through legislation on home soil but they're also using their diplomatic mass to encourage other countries to take greater action. 

What Are The Outcomes COP26 Hopes To Achieve? 

The UK in particular has focused on 5 key areas to tackle climate in the run up to COP26; Coal, Transport, Deforestation and Methane as well as finance and adaptation. 

Coal - The aim of consigning coal to history, this will include the requirement of developing countries to commit to not building new coal industry and for developed countries to have phased it out by the 2030's. 

Transport -  the UK presidency wants large auto manufactures to commit to making all new cars and vans zero-emission by 2040 globally and by 2035 in countries with larger markets.

Deforestation and Methane - The UK government also want to see a commitment to halt and reverse deforestation this decade and action on avoidable losses of methane from the energy, agricultural and waste sectors. At the UN General Assembly in September, the EU and the US announced the Global Methane Pledge to reduce emissions by at least 30% from 2020 levels by 2030. Over 30 countries and the EU have agreed to join the pledge, representing about a third of global methane emissions.

What Happens after COP26? 

As there is such a packed agenda during the 2 week conference it's unlikely that resolutions will be finalised at the event. What is important is to set out a realistic roadmap for action for all countries taking into consideration the finances and resources of each. One thing the event will heavily focus on is the critical importance of delivering large-scale emissions reductions before the end of the decade.


Share this post

Leave a comment