Recently you may have been seeing more and more in the news and online about COP26 – but what is it? And why is it so important? This piece will help breakdown the origins, goals, and significance of COP26 and help you get up to date with one of the most significant events in the global calendar this year.

What is COP26? 

COP stands for Conference of the Parties, and this year will be the 26th COP to go ahead since the first held in Berlin, 1995. The Parties which take part in the conference are the 197 countries which have ratified the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which came into force in 1994. The ultimate objective of the Convention is to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions at a level which will not damage the climate or environment. Every year the Parties meet to review the implementation of previously agreed actions of the Convention and to look at the progress that has been made towards reaching its ultimate objective.

The key goals to be focused on at COP26 includes securing global net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and keeping the goal of a maximum of 1.5 degrees of global warming within reach; working to protect communities and natural habitats through empowering and encouraging affected countries to take action and finally, mobilizing finance from developed countries to meet the previously agreed target of raising $100bn a year in climate finance.



The Conference of the Parties is held every year, apart from in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year the Conference will begin on the 31st of October with the opening of negotiations and ends on the 12th of November with the closure of negotiations. Each day the delegates will discuss topics from energy to gender and transport to nature. View the full programme for COP26 here, and view events scheduled for the run up to COP26 here.



The Conference of the Parties is usually held in Bonn, Germany, unless one of the Parties offers to host the event. COP26 will be held in Glasgow this year, at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC). The facilities will be carbon neutral and the Conference will have sustainability at its core, ensuring the use of responsible resources and supply chain, as well as actively managing potential impacts on the environment and local communities.



But why is this Conference so important? There are two main reasons why COP26 will be such as significant Conference. Firstly, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, governments are faced with a unique opportunity to rebuild their economies in more sustainable and environmentally friendly ways. As well as this, the global pandemic demonstrated how essential it is for nations to cooperate and work together on world issues and many are hoping this realisation will extend to the climate change crisis.

Secondly, COP26 is the first chance for nations to review the commitments they made back in 2015 as part of the landmark Paris Agreement, the first legally binding global climate change agreement. This Conference is being viewed as the summit to push for nations to commit to more significant targets as well as to commit to more concrete plans to reach what was agreed upon within the Paris Agreement.

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