What even is COP26 you might be asking… Well, it stands for “Conference of the Parties”, more specifically it is the “United Nations Climate Change Conference”. This year it is happening in Glasgow Scotland from 31st October to 12 November and will be the 26th annual summit, hence COP26.
The last one that happened was held in Paris in 2015 and was actually quite momentous. For the first time in history, every single country in the world agreed to work together to:
- Limit global warming to well below 2 degrees and aim for 1.5 degrees,
- Adapt to the impacts of a changing climate,
- To make money available to deliver on these aims
And thus the “Paris Agreement” was born. To put this agreement into play, each country put forward plans and ideas on how they would reduce emissions. These plans were coined as “Nationally Determined Contributions” or NDCs.
COP26 however, is arguably the most important COPs to date and I am going to explain to you why in this blog.
This year our planet reached its final limit on resources, we have finally pushed it too far.
It is also no secret (because it’s happening right in front of our eyes) that the weather has changed drastically, the increase in the number of fires and floods around the world, for example, is just a snippet of these changes.
And while the Paris Agreement seemed hopeful, most countries have failed at limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. We are on the right track but scientists have discovered that it will take a lot more than what we are doing already to reach the target.
According to the official COP26 site - “the world needs to halve emissions over the next decade and reach net-zero carbon emissions by the middle of the century if we are to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees.”
So how are they planning on doing that?
The 4 points below are what COP26 are suggesting each country aims to achieve:
- SECURE GLOBAL NET-ZERO BY MIDCENTURY 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 phaseout of coal, encourage investment in renewables, curtail deforestation, and speed up the switch to electric vehicles.
- 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 defenses, put warning systems in place and make infrastructure and agriculture more resilient to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods, and lives.
- MOBILISE FINANCE. To realize 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.
- WORK TOGETHER TO DELIVER. We can only rise to the challenges of climate change by working together. At COP26 we must finalize 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.
One detail I should highlight is that the UK government (who are hosting this year's summit) has stated that point 3, “mobilizing finance” is the utmost important factor to this mission. When every bank, insurer, financial institution, and investor is on board with this point the last 3 points will be easy to achieve. They also highlighted that developing countries will need the most support.
In the meantime, all we can do is try our best to do our bit and minimize waste, emissions and live a cleaner life.
So there you have it, a whistle-stop tour of what is on the agenda at COP26, lets hope they can make this work!