29/09/2021 jim

COP26: What you need to know

What is COP26? 

COP26 is the 2021 edition of the United Nations annual climate change conference. It will be held in Glasgow between 31 October and 12 November 2021. 

More than 190 world leaders are expected to arrive in Scotland, together with tens of thousands of negotiators, government representatives and businesses for twelve days of talks. 

The goal is to reach an agreement on how to tackle the climate change emergency and prevent global temperatures from rising by more than 1.5C by 2050.

What does COP stand for?

COP stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’. The ‘parties’ are the 197 countries (including the European Union) who originally signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1994. 

COP26 will be the 26th meeting of the Parties. 

What will happen at COP26?

United Nations climate change conferences are among the largest international meetings in the world. Negotiations involve government officials from every nation on earth, as well as representatives from civil society and the global news media. 

To respond to the accelerating climate change emergency, all the countries involved must agree on finalising the Paris Rulebook (the rules needed to implement the Paris Agreement).

What is the Paris Agreement?

A legally binding international climate change treaty. It was signed by all the participating nations at the COP 21 event in Paris, December 2015. 

Each nation agreed to:

  • limit global warming to a target of 1.5 C
  • adapt to the impacts of a changing climate
  • make money available to deliver on these aims
  • update their emissions reduction target, known as ‘nationally determined contributions’ (NDC’s), every five years

Why does limiting temperature rise to 1.5C matter?

To limit the damaging effects of climate change, we must prevent global temperatures from rising by more than 1.5 C. For this to happen we must ensure that by the second half of the century we are emitting less carbon than we take out of the atmosphere. That is what reaching ‘net zero’ means.

All nations will need to:

  • phase out their use of fossil fuels
  • encourage investment in renewables
  • prevent deforestation
  • switch to electric vehicles

Useful links

Find out more information about the Paris Agreement

Go to the official COP26 webpage

How to get involved

See a calendar of webinars, talks and events related to COP26

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