COP26: What is the Glasgow climate conference and why is it important?

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The UK is organizing a summit that is seen as crucial if climate change is to be tamed.

The meeting in Glasgow from October 31 to November 12 could lead to major changes in our daily lives.

What is COP26 and why is it happening?

The world is warming due to human-caused fossil fuel emissions.

Extreme weather events related to climate change, including heat waves, floods and wildfires, are intensifying and governments agree that urgent collective action is needed.

For this conference, 200 countries are being asked about their plans to reduce emissions by 2030.

They all agreed in 2015 to make changes to keep global warming “well below” 2 ° C above pre-industrial levels, and to try to aim for 1.5 ° C, to avoid a climate catastrophe.

This is what is known as Paris Agreement, and it means that countries have to keep making further cuts in emissions until they reach net zero in 2050.

What will be decided at COP26?

Most countries will set their plans to cut emissions before the summit starts, so we should have an idea of ​​whether we are on the right track beforehand.

But during the two weeks we can expect a series of new announcements.

Many are expected to be very technical, including the rules that are still needed to implement the Paris Agreement, for example.

But some other announcements could include:

  • Make a faster switch to electric cars
  • Accelerate the phase-out of coal energy
  • Cut fewer trees
  • Protect more people from the impacts of climate change, such as financing coastal defense systems.

Up to 25,000 people are expected in Glasgow, including world leading negotiators and journalists.

Tens of thousands of activists and companies will also be there to hold events, network. and make protests. Extinction Rebellion, for example, is calling for an immediate end to the use of fossil fuels.

At the end of the conference, some kind of statement is expected.

Each country will be required to register and could include specific commitments.

Are there likely to be hot spots?

Expect a lot of talk about money and climate justice. Developing countries tend to pollute less per capita and are not responsible for the majority of emissions in the past.

But they experience some of the worst effects of climate change.

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They need money to help reduce their emissions and tackle climate change. It could mean more solar panels in countries that rely on coal power and flood defense systems.

There will also be a battle for compensation for developing countries affected by climate change.

Rich countries previously pledged $ 100bn (£ 720m) a year to help poorer nations by 2020, but that did not happen. Therefore, richer countries are expected to commit more money.

China’s commitments at COP26 will also be very important. It is now the world’s largest polluter and has investments in coal stations around the world.

Many observers will be watching how quickly China, and other major fossil fuel producers, will be willing to reduce their dependence on them.

How will COP26 affect me?

Certain commitments made in Glasgow could directly affect our daily lives.

For example, it could change if you drive a gasoline car, heat your house with a gas boiler, or take so many flights.

You will hear a lot of slang

  • COP26: COP stands for Conference of the Parties. Established by the UN, COP1 took place in 1995; this will be the twenty-sixth
  • Paris Agreement: The Paris Agreement united all the nations of the world, for the first time, in a single agreement to tackle global warming and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • IPCC: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change examines the latest research on climate change
  • 1.5C: Keeping the global average temperature rise below 1.5 ° C, compared to pre-industrial times, will avoid the worst impacts of climate change, scientists say.

How will we know that COP26 is a success?

As host country, the UK will likely want all countries to endorse a strong statement re-committing to net zero emissions by 2050, as well as big reductions by 2030.

You’ll also want specific commitments to ending coal, gasoline cars, and protecting nature.

Developing countries will want a significant financial package over the next five years, to help them adapt to rising temperatures.

Anything below this is likely to be considered inappropriate because there is simply no more time to keep the 1.5C target alive.

However, some scientists believe that world leaders have left it too late and that no matter what is agreed at COP26, 1.5 ° C will not be achieved.

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