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What is COP26 and why is it so important for the climate crisis?

What is COP26 and why is it so important for the climate crisis?

COP26 stands for the 26th time that the 'Conference of the Parties' will meet in Glasgow this year, in November.

This special 'Conference of the Parties' involves countries from all over the world, brought together by the United Nations. 

But what actually is it?

All of our world leaders, including Boris Johnson, Joe Biden, The Queen and even Pope Francis will be at the Conference. There will also be tens of thousands of negotiators, government representatives and businesses coming along. 

It lasts for about 12 days, starting on 1 November until 12 November.

This year it takes place in Glasgow and is more vital than ever with the effects of climate change looming large.

The 12 days allow for a series of talks, discussions and negotiations between the countries of the world, to try and meet the goals set for this Conference. Countries will make, update and talk about the 'pledges' they have made towards achieving progress in the climate crisis.

Here are the four goals set out by the UK who are hosting the event with Italy. 

1. Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach
2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats
3. Mobilise finance (keeping money moving to help developing countries and fund projects)
4. Work together to deliver unity

Boiling down the climate crisis into a four point plan makes it seem really achievable...it isn't

All those who come to COP26 have already agreed on the latest science - as set out in the IPCC Report (you can read more about that here!). The Conference is instead all about setting targets to do something about the scientific evidence. 

There is a massive amount of work to do, deals to agree and money to be put in place to fund the work that is needed to address global warming.

So as you've probably worked out by now, there have already been 25 other COPs. Have they achieved anything?

In a word - yes. Each meeting of COP gets the whole world organised when it comes to climate change. 

The first meeting was in Berlin, 1995, where countries agreed to keep meeting each year to review the progress of the climate crisis.

It took another 20 years to finally come up with something meaningful. A target to stick to. This happened in Paris, which has become known as the Paris Agreement. Finally, all countries agreed to keep global warming to 2c above pre-industrial levels, ideally below 1.5c.

'Yeah, but things are just getting worse climate-wise, so what is COP26 going to change?'

COP26 will hold countries to account for their pledges. China is a big talking point - with doubts that their president Xi Jinping or any representatives from their country will actually turn up. 

China is often talked about as a big polluting country, oblivious to the climate crisis. After all, they are the biggest emitter of carbon emissions, full stop.

But China is yet to fully develop as a country in the same way that the western world has. Across Britain, France and Europe there was the Industrial Revolution founded on cheap coal which helped us to build up our cities and move away from living rurally and working on farms. China is still moving through that process - 39% of its 1.4bn population live in rural areas as of 2020. But this has really changed since 1979 where 81% of China's population lived in rural areas. China expect their carbon emissions to 'peak' (as they fully develop their economy) by 2030, becoming carbon neutral by 2060. 

Already China is cutting back on just how much coal it uses or otherwise funds. They have promised to stop funding overseas coal power. This is a big first step in moving away from coal which is a huge contributor to global warming.

COP26 provides another opportunity to find ways of helping developing nations like China to continue their economic growth without costing the earth as much.

Green power can be expensive but this is where the countries of COP26 club together and have a whip round to help countries transition from coal power to renewable energy resources. 

And the bottom line *drum roll please* is...

There's always hope that the world can get its act together. We are not talking about climate scepticism anymore - about global warming being some big myth. Boris Johnson has admitted the 'facts' have changed after he previously suggested climate change wasn't a big deal. Climate change is not something to choose to believe in anymore, it is backed by overwhelming scientific evidence. Our world leaders know that. They have all read the 'code red' IPCC report and now this is the first time the world meets to set some targets and get deals done to do something about this mess. 

If you fancy digging a bit deeper into the history of the COPs, we recommend this guide by the Ecologist. 

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1 comment

  • Like this information and let’s hope Changes are made to keep a more balanced environment

    Jim

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