What Is COP26 and Why Is a Local weather Change Convention Necessary?

What Is COP26 and Why Is a Climate Change Conference Important?

Climate protesters gather for the Global Day of Action for Climate Justice march on November 6, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Local weather protesters collect for the World Day of Motion for Local weather Justice march on November 6, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Picture: Jeff J. Mitchell (Getty Photographs)

Gizmodo has reporters on the bottom on the UN local weather talks in Glasgow. This web page is up to date commonly to incorporate the newest information and tales from COP26. Final replace 11/7/21 9:00 a.m. ET. 

At a look:

  • What’s COP26? It’s the twenty sixth annual UN Local weather Change Convention.
  • When is COP26? It started on Oct. 31 and continues till Nov. 12.
  • The place is COP26? It’s being held in Glasgow, Scotland, UK.
  • What does COP26 stand for? Convention of Events 26
  • Why is COP26 essential? Why you need to care in regards to the UN Local weather Talks.

The newest COP26 information:

What’s COP26?

COP is an acronym for “Convention of Events.” In UN-speak, a COP is analogous to a gathering of Congress or one other legislative physique, besides they’re simply speaking about local weather change on a regular basis. In local weather land, COPs convene to cope with issues associated to the United Nations Framework Conference on Local weather Change, or UNFCCC, which is the massive UN treaty that dictates that nations want to come back collectively to determine tips on how to cease international warming.

Annually, representatives from all of the nations within the treaty collect in the identical bodily area to hammer out worldwide local weather change motion and coverage associated to the UNFCCC. COP26 is the precise title of this 12 months’s massive local weather change assembly.

Who’s attending COP26?

Every of the 192 nations who’ve signed on to the Paris Settlement have despatched a cohort of delegates to signify them within the negotiations. It’s a lot of individuals: Round 20,000 delegates and 120 heads of state registered to attend. President Joe Biden is there together with 13 cupboard members and his prime local weather advisers Gina McCarthy and John Kerry.

Learn Extra: We Talked to Congressional Republicans at UN Local weather Talks About Their ‘Rational Strategy’

Within the video under, you possibly can watch highlights from the “World Leaders Summit” at COP26, together with speeches from Boris Johnson, Joe Biden, David Attenborough and lots of extra world leaders and local weather activists. (Quite a few key prime ministers and presidents, although, determined to skip the opening leaders summit.)

So, does the “26” imply there have been 25 different COPs?

Sure. The UNFCCC was created in 1992, when 154 nations signed a brand new treaty about local weather change. That treaty went into impact in 1994. The primary COP occurred in 1995 in Berlin, and COPs have met nearly yearly since then. (Final 12 months’s COP acquired postponed as a result of pandemic.)

That’s loads of conferences. Why haven’t we fastened local weather change by now?

The dimensions of the issue shouldn’t be solely fairly massive, however the UN course of is fairly convoluted. Most COPs are crammed with lengthy discussions about minute technical particulars that pertain to totally different UN guidelines and parameters. Some COPs are principally devoted largely to determining technical particulars of specific agreements.

In between all this process, you’ve acquired some fairly massive inquiries to reply, like how (and if) to carry larger nations accountable for his or her fair proportion of world carbon emissions; how a lot monetary support smaller nations ought to get; and what the world can realistically accomplish versus what science says we have to do.

When you might have practically 200 nations, all with their very own pursuits, clamoring for enter on points massive and small, you might have a recipe for consensus being powerful to achieve and lots of conferences. Civil society and even fossil gasoline corporations additionally present as much as attempt to affect the talks, including yet one more layer. (Sadly, leaders appear to hearken to the latter greater than the previous up to now.)

If it’s referred to as COP26, what’s the Glasgow convention? 

Glasgow is the place this 12 months’s COP is being held, for the reason that UK is internet hosting COP. Yearly, the “presidency” of a COP—the nation that runs the present and principally makes certain everybody will get alongside and stuff will get accomplished—switches, and the assembly is mostly held in a metropolis inside that nation. That mentioned, current COPs have been held in nations apart from the host. Chile held the presidency of COP25, but it surely moved the convention to Spain attributable to protests about rising inequality. (Chile was solely the host as a result of Brazil backed out after Jair Bolsonaro received the presidency.)

However often, the title of the town the place talks are held is synonymous with that individual COP. In 2015, France was the host of COP15, which is how we acquired the title of the Paris Settlement.

What’s the Paris Settlement? 

On the Paris COP, 192 nations got here to an settlement to get the world off fossil fuels and to attempt to keep away from, at most, 2 levels Celsius (3.6 levels Fahrenheit) of extra warming by the top of this century. The settlement units an aspirational goal of avoiding 1.5 levels Celsius (2.7 levels Fahrenheit) of warming as effectively due to the advocacy of small island nations. As a part of the Paris Settlement, nations agreed to submit their very own plans that will element how a lot they plan to chop greenhouse gasoline emissions.

This type of settlement could sound very fundamental, but it surely was an enormous deal for the UN course of. Again in 2009, nations have been hoping to achieve an identical settlement, however the negotiations, as a substitute, ended dramatically on the final day of the convention in what amounted to a diplomatic meltdown. Agreeing on these things is powerful!

If the world signed the Paris Settlement in 2015, shouldn’t we be accomplished with these conferences by now?

Paris was by no means meant to be the ultimate phrase on how the world would sort out local weather change. Think about it extra of a starter blueprint. The settlement is modeled on nations submitting more and more aggressive plans for reducing emissions each couple of years. We’ve additionally seen within the intervening years how fragile the settlement is. The Paris Settlement is a relatively bare-bones settlement to do one thing about rising greenhouse gasoline emissions. 

However it’s additionally nonbinding, which is why former President Donald Trump was capable of pull the U.S. out with no sanctions or penalties. It’s additionally why President Joe Biden might simply rejoin it and submit a brand new pledge like nothing occurred.

What is occurring at COP26? 

Negotiators are engaged on loads of totally different mechanisms meant to assist nations report local weather targets and talk with one another, together with setting widespread timeframes for NDCs and a widespread transparency framework that helps nations see one another’s progress and construct belief that everybody is doing their local weather homework. They’re additionally discussing tips on how to perform guarantees made on local weather finance, particularly how wealthier nations tackle duty for serving to poorer ones transition their economies and adapt to local weather change.

The precise negotiations are closed to the general public, however there’s loads of exercise that goes on outdoors the conferences as effectively. Hundreds of spectators from what’s often called “observer organizations”—NGOs, youth organizations, companies, coverage teams—come to COP to cheer the delegates and the method on, attempt to goad them a method or one other, and usually contain themselves within the negotiations as a lot as doable from the sidelines.

Oxfam activists dressed as a Scottish pipe band and representing (L-R) French President Emmanuel Macron, US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during their “Big Heads” protest at the Royal Exchange Square in Glasgow on November 1, 2021 on the sidelines of the COP26 UN Climate Summit.

Oxfam activists dressed as a Scottish pipe band and representing (L-R) French President Emmanuel Macron, US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson throughout their “Massive Heads” protest on the Royal Change Sq. in Glasgow on November 1, 2021 on the sidelines of the COP26 UN Local weather Summit.
Picture: Oli SCARFF / AFP (Getty Photographs)

Loads of these teams placed on demonstrations, discussions, and different occasions—many together with celebrities and world leaders that get loads of information consideration and might, to some extent, inform what’s occurring in discussions. International locations may also placed on their very own occasions, a few of which might be fairly telling about these nations’ priorities contained in the negotiations. (At COP24, the Trump administration placed on a woefully unhappy panel totally dedicated to defending coal.) 

Why is COP26 essential? 

There are a few key benchmarks within the Paris Settlement that can function on this 12 months’s negotiations, so this COP isn’t going to be all about technical particulars—we’re certain to see some throwdowns and fights over massive points.

Maybe equally importantly, there’s additionally been loads of science and analysis since we’ve final held a COP that illustrates the urgency of performing as shortly as doable on local weather. The Worldwide Power Company mentioned earlier this 12 months that each one new fossil gasoline exploration wanted to finish totally by 2022 so as to hold us below 1.5 levels Celsius (F). And in August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Local weather Change, one other UN physique, launched a report outlining simply how a lot the planet has modified—and the way critical issues are going to get if we don’t act now. It’s ample to say that the worldwide ambiance round local weather change most likely hasn’t been this intense going into some other COP.

Learn extra: Democratic Senators Guarantee UN Negotiators Construct Again Higher Is ‘Very Shut’ to Passing

Will issues change after COP26? Are we going to repair local weather change?

To not exaggerate, however there’s loads driving on this specific COP. If the UN can buck the pattern of seeming each assembly ending with contentious non-agreements and are available collectively in a uncommon second of unity, we’ll have a powerful framework to work with as we work out tips on how to get emissions down over the following couple of years. If enterprise proceeds as traditional, effectively… cross your fingers.

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