When is COP26 in Glasgow and what is the purpose of the summit? We examine how the UK government and other world leaders plan to reduce global warming
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As climate change becomes a pervasive threat and we see the effects accelerate globally, countries will soon come together for the COP26 summit to discuss plans to address the climate crisis.
The event, organized by the United Nations, is scheduled to take place in Glasgow a year later than planned – from November 1 to 12, 2021.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson had previously promised that 2020 will be “the defining year for climate change” when he opened the conference with Sir David Attenborough.
However, plans for the 2020 summit have been put on hold due to the pandemic and the 26th conference is now taking place a year later than expected.
As the conference approaches, we examine how the UK, hosting the COP26 summit, plans to address climate change.
What is COP26?
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COP stands for Conference of the Parties and is an umbrella term for any country that has signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – a treaty that was signed in 1994.
COP26 will be the 26th summit of its kind.
At the last conference, held in Madrid in 2019, the young activist Greta Thunberg gave a passionate speech condemning the political participants for their lack of action to prevent global warming.
The COP meeting in Madrid ended with many unresolved issues, but an agreement was reached on reducing carbon dioxide levels.
Each nation agreed to work out a plan to reduce their carbon emissions by the next conference in Glasgow.
What is the UK doing about climate change?
The small steps to reducing climate change are relatively simple and obvious on a personal level – travel less and adjust your diet – but a large part of the affective solutions rests with government and politics.
The UK was the first country in the world to make a legally binding commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and we are well on our way to achieving “net zero” carbon emissions by 2050 … but is that enough?
Despite being a tiny group of islands, Britain was a major contributor to global warming over the post-industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries.
A recent Oxfam study found that the richest percent of the world’s population is responsible for more than twice as much carbon pollution as the world’s poorest 3.1 billion people.
Recently the UK government made commitments reduce government funding of fossil fuel projects abroad.
However, the UK is cutting aid it sends to the UN to finance climate change.
In addition, companies in the UK financial industry continue to fund fossil fuel projects.
By funding polluting projects around the world, the UK financial industry has causes 1.8 times more emissions than all of Great Britain.
Do COP events make a difference?
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Although COP25 was the longest summit ever – it ended two days later than planned – young activists were frustrated by the apparent lack of action and many took to the streets of Madrid in protest.
It was hoped that the conference would show world leaders how much needs to be done, but countries remained undecided on how to approach areas such as carbon offsetting. This problem will be discussed again at this year’s summit – two years later.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was “disappointed” with how little was actually achieved at COP25.
Activists will wait to see what promises the leaders have made and kept since the last summit at their meeting in Glasgow in November.