Climate change: What is COP26 and why does it matter?

(Markus Spiske: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Douglas Broom, Senior Writer, Formative Content

  • A UN report says 2021 is a “make or break year” in the fight against climate change.
  • The next UN climate summit, COP26, is due to take place in the UK city of Glasgow in November.
  • The last summit in 2019 failed to agree tough climate action.
  • So what’s the plan for COP26, and how high are the stakes?

In the fight against climate change, the UN says time is fast running out. So COP26, the United Nations climate summit, is an opportunity to agree to global action that’s seriously overdue.

Originally due to be held in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2020, the summit is the 26th gathering of world leaders to coordinate action to stop the rise in global temperatures. The event was delayed by a year because of COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings.

a picture of firemen attending to a wildfire
The UN says 2021 is a ‘make or break year’ in the fight to slow climate change. Image: Pixabay/Steve Buissinne

So what is COP26?

COP26 is the latest Conference of the Parties (COP), the group of nations that forged the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992, which commits them to act together to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations “at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human induced) interference with the climate system”.

Since then, the parties have been meeting annually. The last gathering was COP25 in December 2019, in Madrid, which was addressed by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, who told delegates: “Every fraction of a degree matters”.

Despite her well-received speech, the conference failed to achieve its goals and UN Secretary-General António Guterres described COP25 as a lost opportunity.

What is COP26 hoping to achieve?

COP26 is due to take place on 1-12 November, 2021 at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow. The summit will be chaired by UK cabinet minister Alok Sharma.

The UK and Italian governments, which are co-hosting COP26, have set four goals for the 2021 event:

1. Agreeing a step change in commitments to emissions reduction

2. Strengthening adaptation to climate change impacts

3. Getting finance flowing for climate action

4. Enhancing international collaboration on energy transition, clean road transport and nature.

Make or break year

“If this task was urgent before, it’s crucial now,” said Patricia Espinosa, head of the UNFCCC, while Guterres described 2021 as a “make or break year” in the fight against climate change.

Major CO2 emitting nations have yet to submit their plans to cut greenhouse gases, according to a report by UNFCCC, which added that even with increased efforts by some countries, the combined impact “falls far short” of what is needed to limit the effects of climate change.

“Today’s interim report … is a red alert for our planet,” said Guterres. “It shows governments are nowhere close to the level of ambition needed to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

He called on major emitters to “step up with much more ambitious emissions reductions” targets for 2030.

a pie chart of the Most Popular Climate Policies
Looking for ways to reduce greenhouse gases. Image: Statista

A way forward

Even in the pandemic, global leaders still rate extreme weather events caused by climate change and human environmental damage as among the top 10 clear and present dangers to the world, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2021.

People around the globe appear to agree. Half of the world’s population was recently surveyed for the People’s Climate Vote, organized by the UN Development Programme and the University of Oxford, with conservation of forests proving the most popular policy for tackling climate change.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Europe should make voice ‘more heard’ in today’s ‘dangerous world,’ says UN chief

The revenge of the fallen

Syrian crisis is ‘clearest example’ of foreign investment in terrorism, Deputy Prime Minister says at UN

This Syrian national has been trapped at Kuala Lumpur airport for 3 months

European Commission calls on national political parties to join efforts to ensure free and fair elections in Europe

Back to the Basics: Primary Healthcare

Learning lessons from across Europe – the hidden costs of COVID-19 on lung cancer

Eliminating gender based bias in medicine: the role of medical students

MEPs propose more transparent legislative drafting and use of allowances

Out with the old: Young People transforming Humanitarian Action

Parliament adopts deal to improve quality of tap water and reduce plastic litter

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Eaton Hydraulics by Danfoss, subject to conditions

5 ways to #BeatAirPollution

Security spillovers from Trump’s trade wars: China, Germany prepare for global disorder

Iceland’s slowdown underlines the need to fix structural issues

Wirecard: MEPs call for new audit rules, protection for whistle-blowers and EU supervision

Why salaries could finally be on the way up

Estonia: use robust growth to improve income equality and well-being

More funds needed to counter ‘persistent and multi-faceted humanitarian problems’ in Ethiopia

EU prolongs economic sanctions on Russia by six months

New energy security framework will help meet growing needs in East Africa, sustainably – UN economic wing

Postal workers in France are helping elderly people fight loneliness

We are witnessing a revolution in genomics – and it’s only just begun

Why transparency in drug pricing is more complicated than it seems

COP21 Breaking News_04 December: Launch of CREWS, climate risk & early warning systems

Merkel: Nationalism and egoism must never have a chance again in Europe

More funding needed to combat locust swarms ‘unprecedented in modern times’

Global warming: our responsibility

Beware the fragility of the global economy

Commission provides 20 cities with funding for innovative security, digital, environmental and inclusion projects

WHO and UNICEF in campaign to protect 1.6 million in Sudan from cholera

Falling inflation urges ECB to introduce growth measures today

Why are the financial markets shivering again?

‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ clean-up project launches trial run: UN Environment

EU labour mobility: Inconvenient truths for everybody

European Parliament and Eurovision sign partnership for European Elections

EU attempts to make new deal with Turkey as relations deteriorate

Technophobe or technophile? We need more conversation about digital transformation

‘Emulate his example’ urges UN chief as world celebrates Nelson Mandela: a ‘global advocate for dignity and equality’

MWC 2016 LIVE: Qualcomm looks to pick up Hamilton’s winning ways

EP and EU ministers agree on Erasmus+ programme for 2021-2027

My experience living with depression and schizophrenia in Thailand

Building cybersecurity capacity through benchmarking: the Global Cybersecurity Index

3 ways to rebuild trust in how we regulate technology

First calls under Horizon Europe to be launched by the European Research Council

Philanthropy must face a reckoning on race in 2021

New UN finance panel to push Global Goals forward

Conditions deteriorating alarmingly in Yemen, warns senior UN official

Commission reinforces tools to ensure Europe’s interests in international trade

EU mobilises emergency assistance for Croatia in the aftermath of devastating earthquake

Commission concludes that an Excessive Deficit Procedure is no longer warranted for Italy at this stage

Better ID card security to curb document fraud

Can we automate our way out of the savings crisis?

5 lessons for the future of universities

Things are bad and getting worse for South Africa. Or are they?

This is why AI has a gender problem

Commission paralysed before the banking leviathan

The world must pull together to stem the urgent crisis in our ocean

Alice in Colombia

The recipe for creativity involves a lot of ideas, and a short break

More Stings?


Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s