Beginners Guide to COP26

COP26 is only two days away!

The event is being held in Glasgow and will run from the 31st of October to Friday the 12th of November.

It is expected to be the most important climate conference since the Paris Agreement at COP21 in 2015, signed by 196 countries at the time.

The long-term goal of these accords is to keep the rise in average global temperature below 1.5°C, which would significantly reduce the impact of climate change.

To help you learn more about this year’s event and why it is so critical, Play it Green is giving you this quick guide to some of the most commonly asked questions.

What is COP 26?

COP26 is the name for this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference, with ‘COP’ referring specifically to the climate talks, or “Conference of the Parties”.

The first-ever COP was held in 1995 in Berlin and is a chance for countries around the world to meet to discuss climate change, their progress, and set targets for the future.

Who is going?

The summit will bring together the largest gathering of world leaders ever on British soil over its 12-day run. There will also be other representatives from world governments, NGOs, businesses, faith groups, scientists, press and media, and more.

The U.K. will be represented by a number of people including prime minister Boris Johnson, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon, Prince Charles, Prince William, ex-Bank of England governor Mark Carney, and a UN climate envoy.

Other major world leaders attending include US president Joe Biden, French president Emmanuel Macron, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and Brazilian president Jair Bolsanaro, who, of course, is largely responsible for the Amazon Rainforest.

Russian president Vladimir Putin is the most prominent figure to have declined attending so far, choosing to send a replacement in his stead. It is also still unknown whether Chinese premier Xi Jinping or his climate envoy Xie Zhenhua will be representing the superpower.

Why is this year’s conference so important?

COP26 was meant to be held last year but had to be postponed due to the global Covid-19 crisis.

The pandemic has, in many ways, highlighted the ability of countries around the world to work together and invest in solving a global catastrophe, making it harder to excuse the lack of action taken to combat climate change so far.

While COP happens (almost) every year, countries only really reflect upon new climate science and make key decisions every five, and COP26 is the fifth one to be held since the Paris Agreement in 2015.

The conference also comes just a few months after the release of the latest scientific report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC.

It looked at the (overwhelming) scientific evidence for global warming and what our progress has been like so far, warning that climate change is not slowing down and real efforts need to be made to reach Net-Zero as quickly as possible.

What changes can we expect to take place?

We can expect to see many countries pledging to become Net-Zero over the next few weeks and laying out their plans to get there.

This has even started already, with 132 countries having already set Net-Zero targets.

The U.K., who is hosting the event, also recently set out their plans to achieve this goal by 2050, which we previously talked about here.

Of course, carbon emissions are not the sole topic of discussion.

Decisions will also be made about how to best protect our ecosystems and how to help countries, particularly those in the Global South, adapt to the impacts of climate change.

Where can I keep up with COP26 news?

News sources all over the country are likely to be discussing the big events and decisions made at COP26, but if you want to keep more up to date with what is going on you can follow the official COP26 twitter account.

You can also join the conversation by following Play it Green on Twitter, where we’ll be posting regular updates on what is happening at COP26.

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