It’s been making headlines for months. As global leaders and delegations gather in Scotland, we wanted to find out what is COP26 and why is it so important?
What is COP26?
COP26 is an annual United Nations conference created to address climate change. It stands for Conference of the Parties and is the 26th conference held since 1994 (COP26). This year it’s in Glasgow, Scotland. Postponed from 2020 due to COVID-19, the UK and Italian Governments are co-hosting this event.
COP21 was in Paris in 2015 and is probably the most well-known of all the Conference of the Parties. Back then, global leaders agreed in Paris to work together to keep global temperatures rising above 2 degrees (although, they also agreed this should preferably be only 1.5 degrees). The Paris agreement is the cornerstone of most climate-related discussions and will likely underpin much of what is discussed in Glasgow at COP26.
One of the cornerstones of the Paris agreement was its emphasis on a process of 5-year reporting, allowing for iterative changes to previous agreements and reflecting on current progress and scientific research. 6-years on, COP26 will use progress on the Paris Agreement’s targets to indicate future negotiations.
COP26 comes just months after the UN released its IPCC report, in which it described climate change as a red alert for humanity. Many climate scientists now believe that a global temperature rise above 1.5 degrees is inevitable.
The timing of this conference during a global pandemic will also make for some interesting discussions. Two hundred world leaders – including US President Joe Biden – are attending, as are 36,000 delegates.
One notable exception includes Russian President Vladimir Putin, although he will give a pre-recorded message. According to The Standard, Russia still considers climate change an “important priority”. 2021 saw heatwaves in the Russian capital and devastating forest fires in Siberia. The Russian Federation is also warming up faster than most other places on earth.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is also not attending. Having not travelled outside China since the pandemic started, he will provide a pre-recorded message instead. Whilst this is concerning (China is currently the world’s most significant contributor to coal-powered pollution), it is sending a delegation to the talks. China recently announced it was no longer building overseas coal-fired power plants.
According to its website, the aims of COP26 are
- To secure global net-zero by 2030 and limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.
- To adapt to protect communities and natural habitats
- To ensure that developed countries are working to raise $100 billion in climate finance per year
- And to make it clear that everyone works together to ensure the things needed to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.
This last point is obvious. Climate change is a global issue and one requiring collaboration amongst countries, businesses and institutions. It’s why Energym was so excited to get invited to the Pantry at Bloomberg’s European Headquarters for an activation event inspired by COP26. We challenged the Bloomberg team to #RideForYourCity to see how much clean energy they could generate using our electricity-generating indoor bike – the RE:GEN.
We’ll be back at Bloomberg’s HQ at the end of COP26 for a much bigger event so keep following our Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram accounts. Hopefully, COP26 will inspire many other businesses and organisations to get creative in the fight against climate change.