Climate Crisis COP26

What is COP26 and why does it matter? 

09 SEP 21 | 3 minute read

If you’ve been following the news lately, you’ll most likely have heard the term ‘COP26’, but what does COP stand for and what’s the fuss all about?

COP stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’, a United Nations climate summit where world leaders coordinate action to stop the rise in global temperatures.  This year will see the 26th meeting, which is why it’s called COP26.  

When and where is COP26 taking place?

Originally planned for November 2020, COP26 was delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions and will now take place from 1-12 November 2021 in Glasgow.

Photo of Finnieston Crane, the Hydro and the SEC Armadillo - the backdrop to COP26 in Glasgow

Is this something new?

No, COP was first conceived in 1992 as a result of an event called the UN Conference on the Environment and Development (UNCED – also known as the Earth Summit).

Around 30,000 representatives of 178 governments, NGOs (non-governmental organisations), media and other interested parties were present. A treaty called the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) came into force in 1994 and the summit is now attended by the countries that signed that treaty.  It has taken place every year since 1995 except, of course, 2020.

I’ve heard of the Paris Agreement. How does that relate to COP26?

The Paris Agreement was first negotiated in 2015 at COP21 in Paris and committed countries to keeping the global temperature rise below 2°C and ideally below 1.5°C in order to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.  

Presidents and prime ministers will report on how their countries have progressed against these targets at COP26.  

What are the goals of COP26?

  1. Agreeing a step change in commitments to emissions reduction.

  2. Strengthening adaptation to climate change impacts. 

  3. Getting finance flowing for climate action. 

  4. Enhancing international collaboration on energy transition, clean road transport and nature. 

How is the UK performing?

The UK has has pledged to go to Net Zero by 2050. Some countries are yet to agree to this, which will be a focus for COP26.

Who attends COPs?

As well as the national delegations, there are several NGOs, Environmental NGOs, Research and independent NGOs, Local Governments and Municipal Authorities, Trade Unions, Youth Organisations, Business and Industry.

If it goes ahead as a fully physical event - dependent on the COVID-19 situation nearer the time - it will be the biggest summit the UK has ever hosted with around 30,000 attendees expected.

Can you attend COP26?

For most of us, attendance at official COP events is not possible. But organisations around Scotland are looking at the opportunities to host or get involved in events during 2021 that will build on the momentum and publicity around COP26.  Many events are still in the planning stage, but it’s worth checking out:

  • Climate Fringe is hosting numerous events all year and a special Climate Fringe week from 18-26 September 2021.
  • COP26 coalition.
  • The Green Zone is a part of the event that will be open to the public. Various organisations have applied to host exhibitions, talks and meetings in the Green Zone – more information will follow shortly.
  • The COP26 Universities Network will be hosting a wide range of events.
  • Six Climate Beacons around Scotland will provide a welcoming physical and virtual space for conversation about COP26 and climate action between members of the public, artists and cultural sector professionals, environmental NGOs and wider civil society, scientists and policymakers.
  • Eco Congregations are encouraging churches around Scotland to get involved.

These are just a small selection of the initiatives we are aware of, but lots of organisations are still developing plans so keep an eye out. And, if your organisation hasn’t planned anything yet, there’s still plenty of time.

With all the publicity around this event, it’s a great time to raise awareness of Climate Change and encourage action in your community or organisation.

Organisations around Scotland are looking at the opportunities to host or get involved in events during 2021 that will build on the momentum and publicity around #COP26.