What is COP26? Why does it matter?

At the moment the media is full of references to COP26, but what actually is it and why is it so important?

Under a Convention Agreement made in 1992 all countries that are part of the United Nations have an obligation to "avoid dangerous climate change" and find ways to reduce greenhouse gases in a fair way. COP stands for Conference of the Parties, an annual meeting where representatives from each nation meet to try to make progress on these commitments. This is the 26th such meeting - some (like Paris) have been considered a success, others (like Copenhagen) not so much.

This year the COP meeting is happening in Glasgow on 31 October. The last meeting was in Madrid in 2019 (the Glasgow meeting has been delayed by a year because of the pandemic). Lots of issues remained outstanding at the end of the Madrid summit, but each nation did agree to devise a plan to cut carbon emissions by the time of the Glasgow meeting.

It is hoped that at COP26 there will be progess made on emissions cuts, but also that the meeting will look at moving away from coal and an increased focus on nature based solutions. It was decided to hold the meeting in person because of the difficulties of using technology across so many different countries, to ensure that everyone had a fair say.

However, some of the key players (UK and US) have already admitted that COP26 is unlikely to achieve everything that was hoped for, but there is still a hope that a route map can be drawn up that will help the world remain at under 1.5 degrees warming. We will be watching closely and will follow up with further posts explaining the outcome of the talks.