The UK is hosting a summit considered crucial if climate change is to be kept under control.
The Glasgow meeting from 31st October to 12th November could lead to major changes in our daily life.
What is COP26 and why is it happening?
The world is warming from man-made emissions of fossil fuels.
Extreme weather events linked to climate change, including heat waves, floods and forest fires, are intensifying. The past decade has been the hottest on record and governments agree on the need for urgent collective action.
For this conference, 200 countries are being asked for their plans to reduce emissions by 2030.
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 – in order to avoid a climate catastrophe.
This is what is known as the Paris Agreement and it means that countries must continue to cut emissions until they reach net zero in 2050.
What will be decided at COP26?
Most countries will define their plans to reduce emissions before the summit starts, so we should have an idea ahead of time if we’re on the right track.
But during the two weeks we can expect a flurry of new announcements.
Many should be very technical, including the rules still needed to implement the Paris Agreement, for example.
But some other ads might include:
- Switch to electric cars faster
- Accelerate the phasing out of energy from coal
- Cut fewer trees
- Protect more people from the impacts of climate change, for example by funding coastal defense systems.
Up to 25,000 people are expected in Glasgow, including world leaders, negotiators and journalists.
Tens of thousands of activists and companies will also be present to organize events, network and organize protests. Extinction Rebellion, for example, calls for an immediate end to the use of fossil fuels.
Some form of declaration is expected at the end of the conference.
Each country will be required to register and may include specific commitments.
Are there likely pain points?
Expect a lot of talk about money and climate justice. Developing countries tend to pollute less per capita and are not responsible for most emissions in the past.
But they are experiencing some of the worst effects of climate change.
They need money to help reduce their emissions and to cope with climate change. It could mean more solar panels in countries that depend on coal energy and flood defense systems.
There will also be a battle over compensation for developing countries affected by climate change.
In 2009, rich countries pledged $ 100 billion (£ 720 million) a year to help poorer nations by 2020. However, this target has not yet been met and could slip to 2023.
China’s commitments to COP26 will also be very important. It is now the largest polluter in the world and has investments in coal stations around the world.
Many observers will observe how quickly China – and other major fossil fuel producers – will be willing to reduce their dependence on them.
How will COP26 affect me?
Some commitments made in Glasgow could directly affect our daily life.
For example, it could change if you drive a gasoline car, heat your home with a gas boiler, or take just as many flights.
You’ll hear a lot of jargon
- COP26: COP stands for Conference of the Parties. Established by the United Nations, COP1 took place in 1995 – this will be 26
- Paris Agreement: The Paris Agreement united all the nations of the world – for the first time – into a single agreement to combat global warming and reduce greenhouse gas emissions
- IPCC: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reviews the latest research on climate change
- 1.5C: Keeping global mean 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 a host nation, the UK will likely want all countries to support a strong declaration committing back to zero net emissions by 2050, as well as big reductions by 2030.
He will also want specific commitments to end coal, petrol cars and to protect nature.
Developing countries will want a significant financial package over the next five years to help them adapt to rising temperatures.
Anything wrong is probably judged inadequate because there is simply no more time to keep the 1.5 ° C target alive.
However, some scientists believe that world leaders have left it too late and, regardless of what was agreed at COP26, 1.5 ° C will not be achieved.
- Simple guide to climate change
- What will climate change be like for you?
- How extreme climate is linked to climate change
Top image from Getty Images. Display of climatic strips courtesy of prof. Ed Hawkins and the University of Reading.
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