What is COP26 and why is the Climate Change Convention important?

What is COP26 and why is the Climate Change Convention important?

Protesters are seen protesting at the World Climate Conference in Glasgow on November 3, 2021.

Protesters are seen protesting at the World Climate Conference in Glasgow on November 3, 2021.
Photo: Peter Summers (Getty Images)

This page is updated regularly to include the latest news and stories from the COP26 conference. Last updated 3/11/21 4:15 PM ET.

In short:

Latest COP26 News:

What is COP26?

COP is a Acronyms For “Conference of the Parties”. In the parlance of the United Nations, a COP is similar to a meeting of Congress or other legislative body, except that they only talk about climate change all the time. In the climate sector, COPs meet to tackle related issues United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC, is a United Nations great treaty that directs that countries must come together to find a way to stop global warming.

Once a year, representatives of all treaty countries meet in the same physical location to develop international climate change actions and policies related to the UNFCCC. COP26 is the specific name of this year’s big climate change meeting.

Who is attending COP26?

Each of the 192 countries that signed the Paris Agreement sent a group of delegates to represent them in the negotiations. this is the parcel Number of people: about 20,000 delegates and 120 heads of state registered to participate. with President Joe Biden 13 cabinet members and his top climate advisors Gina McCarthy and John Kerry.

Read more: A Non-Exhaustive List of World Leaders Who Are Too Cowardly to Show Up at the UN Climate Talks

In the video below, you can watch highlights from the “World Leaders Summit” at COP26, including speeches from Boris Johnson, Joe Biden, David Attenborough and many other world leaders and climate activists.

So does “26” mean there were 25 other COPs?

Yes. UNFCCC was built in 1992, when 154 countries signed a new treaty on climate change. This treaty came into force in 1994. The first COP was held in Berlin in 1995, and since then the COP has met almost every year. (Last year’s COP has been postponed due to the pandemic.)

That’s a lot of meetings. Why haven’t we fixed climate change yet?

Not only is the magnitude of the problem enormous, but the UN process is quite complex. Most COPs are filled with lengthy discussions of subtle technical details relating to the various UN rules and parameters. Some COPs are essentially devoted to defining the technical details of particular agreements.

In between all these processes, you have some Attractive Fat questions to answer, such as how (and if) the larger countries are to be held accountable for their fair share of global carbon emissions; What financial aid should small countries receive; And what the world can realistically accomplish versus what science says we need to do.

When you have about 200 countries, all with their own interests, calling for contributions on issues big and small, you have insurmountable consensus and a recipe for lots of meetings. civil society And Even the fossil fuel companies They are also seen trying to influence the dialogue, adding another layer. (Unfortunately, the leaders seem listen to the latter So far more than the last one.)

If it’s called COP26, what is the Glasgow convention?

Glasgow is the place This year’s COP is being held, since UK COP. hosts. Every year the “chair” of a COP – the country that runs the show and basically makes sure everyone gets along and things get done – changes, and the meeting is usually held in a city in that city. Country. That said, recent COPs have taken place in countries other than the host. Chile presided over COP25, but moved the conference to Spain due to protest against growing inequalities. (Chile was the only host because Brazil has retreated After Jair Bolsonaro became president.)

But generally, the name of the city in which the talks are taking place is synonymous with that particular COP. In 2015, France hosted COP15, hence the name of the Paris Agreement.

What is the Paris Agreement?

In the Paris COP, 192 countries came to an agreement Move the world away from fossil fuels and try to avoid a maximum of 2 °C (3.6 °F) of additional warming by the end of this century. It sets an ambitious goal of avoiding 1.5 °C (2.7 °F) warming through advocacy by the agreement. small island nation. Under the Paris Agreement, countries agreed to submit their plans, which would detail how much they plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

This type of agreement may sound very basic, but it was a big deal for the UN process. In 2009, the countries were expected to reach a similar deal, but instead negotiations ended dramatically on the final day of the conference, which amounted to a diplomatic collapse. have to agree on this stuff Difficult!

If the world signed the Paris Agreement in 2015, shouldn’t we be with these meetings now?

Paris was never the last word on how the world deals with climate change. Instead, think of it as a starter plan. The deal is based on countries submitting an increasingly aggressive plan to cut emissions every two years. We have also seen in the meantime how fragile the deal is. The Paris Agreement is a relatively rudimentary agreement to make Some on the increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

But it’s also non-binding, which is why former President Donald Trump was able to take back the United States without restriction or punishment. This is why even President Joe Biden was able to just join him And submit a new promise Like nothing ever happened.

What’s happening at COP26?

Negotiators work on several different mechanisms designed to help countries communicate with each other, including setting climate targets and setting goals. normal time frame NDC and A. For Common Transparency Framework Which helps countries see each other’s progress and instills confidence that each is doing their homework on climate. They also discuss how to deliver on the promises made on climate finance, in particular how rich countries take responsibility for helping poor people transform their economies and adapt to change.

The actual talks are closed to the public, but there are many activity It also happens outside of meetings. Thousands of visitors – NGOs, called “observation organizations” youth organization, companies, political groups – delegates and the process come to the COP to encourage them, try to encourage them in some way, and are usually involved in the conversation as isolated as possible.

Oxfam workers wearing Scottish bagpipes and representations of French President Emmanuel Macron, US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left to right) protest at their 'Big Heads' at the Royal Exchange Square in Glasgow on November 1, 2021 did.  of the United Nations COP26 Climate Summit.

Oxfam workers wearing Scottish bagpipes and representations of French President Emmanuel Macron, US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left to right) protest at their ‘Big Heads’ at the Royal Exchange Square in Glasgow on November 1, 2021 did. of the United Nations COP26 Climate Summit.
Photo: Ollie Scarf / AFP (Getty Images)

Many of these groups organize demonstrations, discussions and other programs– Many, including celebrities and world leaders, receive a lot of media attention and, to some extent, can inform what is going on in the discussions. Countries can also organize their own events, some of which can be quite revealing of these countries’ priorities in negotiations. (At COP24, the Trump administration puts Extremely sad panel entirely dedicated to protecting coal.)

Why is COP26 important?

The Paris Agreement has some major landmarks that will be included in this year’s talks, so this COP will not be devoted entirely to technical details.

Perhaps equally important, there has been a lot of science and research since the last COP that shows the urgency to act on climate as quickly as possible. international energy agency said earlier this year That we must completely complete all further exploration of fossil fuels by 2022 to keep it below 1.5 °C (F). And in August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, another United Nations body, published a report Describing how much the planet has changed and how dire things are about to happen if we don’t act now. Suffice it to say that the global climate around climate change may not have been so intense in another COP.

Read more: COP26 may be the world’s best chance to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.

Will things change after COP26? Are we going to fix the problem of climate change?

We should not exaggerate, but there is a lot to be done especially on this COP. If the United Nations can reverse the trend that every meeting ends indictment no compromise And coming together in a rare moment of unity, we will have a solid framework to work with as we figure out how to reduce emissions over the next two years. If business continues as usual, well… keep your fingers crossed.

Do you have any information about COP26 that you think we should know about? Email us at [email protected].

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