The long awaited climate change conference in Glasgow and what it means for our industry
Words by Sophie Tolhurst
COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021, will be taking place in Glasgow on 31 October–12 November. More than 190 world leaders are expected to arrive in Scotland for the event, along with tens of thousands of ‘negotiators, government representatives, businesses and citizens’ for 12 days of talks.
COP26 is regarded by many as ‘the world’s best last chance to get runaway climate change under control’. Image Credit: RAFAPRESS / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
A significant moment in the history of the COP summits was at 2015’s COP21, where for the first time almost every country entered into a legally binding commitment to reduce carbon emissions and limit global warming to below 2ºC, and ideally to 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels. This year’s conference aims to finalise the Paris Rulebook – the regulations needed to implement the Paris Agreement.
COP26’s four main aims are:
- Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5ºC within reach
- Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats, by protecting and restoring ecosystems and building defences, warning systems and resilient infrastructure and agriculture
- Mobilise finance, with wealthier countries promising to mobilise at least $100bn in climate finance per year by 2020
- Finalising the Paris Rulebook and achieving collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society to accelerate action on the climate crisis.
Ahead of this year’s summit Alok Sharma, co-president-designate, states that ‘around 70% of the world economy is now covered by net-zero targets’ and discusses how solar and wind power sources are now cheaper than coal and gas in two-thirds of countries in the world. But much more needs to be done to reach the goals of net zero and 1.5ºC – and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, released in August, makes clear the undeniability of climate change, its irreversibility and its cause by human behaviour.
At the time of writing, a few months before COP26, government emissions pledges fall far short of reaching the aimed for 1.5ºC. Meanwhile, the events of the past 18 months pose an additional question of how rebuilding after the coronavirus pandemic can simultaneously tackle climate change for a green recovery across the globe.