The United Nations Climate Change Conference 2021, or commonly knowns as COP26 will be held in Glasgow, Scotland from November 1 to 12, 2021.
The Conference of Parties (COP) comprises of more than 190 countries who signed up to the United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UN's climate body.
The COP is effectively the UNFCCC decision-making body that meets once a year to negotiate on how to best tackle climate change.
Why is COP26 significant?
This is the first COP happening after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also, by COP26, countries are due to finalise their national action plans to cut emissions under the Paris Agreement.
As countries begin to recover from the pandemic, COP26 is an opportunity to tackle climate change at the same time – to build back better, and greener.
To keep the temperature of the planet under control – limiting its increase to 1.5 degrees - the science dictates that by the second half of the century, the world is producing less carbon than we take out of the atmosphere. This is what reaching ‘net zero’ means.
Key agenda items at COP26:
1. Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach - Countries are being asked to come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets (NDCs) that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century. To deliver on these stretching targets, countries will need to accelerate the phase-out of coal, encourage investment in renewables, curtail deforestation and speed up the switch to electric vehicles.
2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats – The climate is already changing and it will continue to change even as we reduce emissions, with devastating effects. At COP26 we need to work together to enable and encourage countries affected by climate change to protect and restore ecosystems, build defences, put warning systems in place and make infrastructure and agriculture more resilient to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and lives.
3. Mobilise Finance - To realise our first two goals, developed countries must deliver on their promise to raise at least $100bn in climate finance per year. International financial institutions must play their part and we need to work towards unleashing the trillions in private and public sector finance required to secure global net zero.
4. Work together to deliver - We can only rise to the challenges of climate change by working together. At COP26 we must finalise the Paris Rulebook (the rules needed to implement the Paris Agreement). And, we have to turn our ambitions into action by accelerating collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society to deliver on our climate goals faster.