COP26 Overview What is a COP?
COP26 is the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference. For nearly three decades the UN has been bringing together almost every country for global climate summits – called COPs – which stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’. In that time climate change has gone from being a fringe issue to a global priority.
This year saw the 26th annual summit – giving it the name COP26. With the UK as President, COP26 took place in Glasgow from 31 October-13 November 2021. In the run up to COP26 the UK worked with every nation to reach agreement on how to tackle climate change. As the Presidents of COP26, the UK’s role has been to act as an impartial chair in bringing all Parties (individual countries and the EU, which operates as a group) to an agreement by consensus. World leaders arrived in Scotland, alongside tens of thousands of negotiators, government representatives, businesses and civil society groups for fourteen days of talks.
Why was COP26 the “most important COP since Paris”? Back in 2015, at COP21, for the first time ever, something momentous happened: every country agreed to work together to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees and aim for 1.5 degrees, to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate and to make money available to deliver on these aims. The Paris Agreement was born. The commitment to aim for 1.5 degrees is important because every fraction of a degree of warming will result in the loss of many more lives lost and livelihoods damaged.
The Paris Agreement set out that every 5 years countries must set out increasingly ambitious climate action. This meant that, by 2020, countries needed to submit or update their plans for reducing emissions, known as nationally determined contributions (NDCs). This made the run up to this year’s summit in Glasgow (due to take place in 2020, but delayed by a year due to the pandemic) a critical moment in the 3 world’s mission to keep the hope of limiting global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees alive.
Learn about how the negotiations at COP26 went and the outcomes achieved in the documents here...