The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (also known as “Cop26”) summit in Glasgow will be attended by world leaders, and is being billed as the last, best chance to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C to avoid the most dangerous climate change.
It was delayed from 2020 because of the pandemic, and organisers have been keen to push for an in-person event this year to allow all countries to participate effectively and secure a successful outcome to climate negotiations, while ensuring it is a Covid-safe event.
A UK Government spokesperson said Cop26 was a necessary event, as the science was clear for the need to take immediate and far reaching action to have any chance of avoiding the devastating impacts of rising temperatures.
They added: “We know that achieving the ambitious global action needed to tackle climate change requires everyone sitting around the same table. To achieve this we have been working tirelessly to make arrangements for an in-person event.”
Here is everything you need to know about it.
What will be discussed at COP26?
The event comes hot on the heels of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which painted a stark picture of the impact of humanity on the climate due to the burning of fossil fuels and other pollutions.
According to the findings, global warming will continue into at least the middle of this century, but failure to take action to limit CO2 emissions now would mean the target set by governments – of remaining below 1.5C of warming – will be missed.
The report also claimed that global warming could even exceed 2C in this century without urgent action.
The IPCC said the higher the temperature, the more likely severe weather events are to occur, including increased rainfall and drought.
Scotland’s Net Zero Secretary Michael Matheson said Cop26 could be the last chance to save the planet from a climate catastrophe.
“This report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows the very real threat and heightened risk the climate emergency poses to the planet – but it also makes it clear that with immediate, concerted international action to reduce emissions, global temperature rise can still be limited to 1.5C in the longer term,” he said.
“Cop26 in Glasgow represents the world’s best chance – perhaps one of our last chances – to avert the worst impacts of climate change.”
At UN climate talks in Paris in 2015, the world agreed to pursue efforts to prevent temperatures rising more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels to avoid the most dangerous impacts of global warming.
“We must deliver on the principles of the Paris Agreement,” said Matheson, “with lasting action to secure a net-zero and climate-resilient future in a way that is fair and just for everyone.”
“The eyes of the world will be on Cop26 and on Scotland this year.”
President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement in 2017, while his Democratic challengers pledged to immediately rejoin the Paris Agreement and increase ambition to reduce emissions.
On 20 January 2021, President Joe Biden rejoined the Paris Accord.
When is Cop26?
The summit is scheduled to be held in Glasgow between 1 and 12 November. The venue for the conference is the SEC Centre.
How will Cop26 be Covid-secure?
Covid-19 rules for travelling to the UK will be relaxed for thousands of delegates attending the UN Cop26 climate summit.
Restrictions on travel to the UK and rules on quarantine and self-isolation will be reduced for delegates, while there will be strict testing protocols in place, including regular testing for all those attending the summit.
Under the regulations specifically for Cop26, delegates from red list countries will only have to quarantine in quarantine hotels for five days if they have been fully vaccinated, and for 10 days if they have not received the jabs.
There will be no requirement for Cop26 attendees coming from amber or green list countries to self-isolate on arrival to the UK whether they are vaccinated or not, officials said.
Those that do arrive from red list countries have to quarantine for 10 days in quarantine hotels, even if they are double jabbed.
There are also requirements to self-isolate for 10 days for those coming from amber countries who are not fully vaccinated via approved programmes in the UK, US or Europe.
While the red list can change, it currently includes dozens of countries, all of whom are expected to send delegates to Cop26, and some of which are among the most vulnerable to climate change.
What else is happening?
Previous summits have been sponsored by fossil fuel companies, but for 2021’s event, the UK government decided that sponsors "have to have real commitments in place to help them reach net zero in the near future".
National Grid plc, NatWest Group, Scottish Power and SSE plc are the sponsors for Cop26.
Councils in Glasgow have pledged to plant 18 million trees in preparation for the summit, a move which is expected to increase tree coverage in the urban areas of the cityto 20 per cent.
In June, a night time light projection onto the Tolbooth Steeple in Glasgow was installed, projecting “Deadline” and “Lifeline” statistics, counting the time window before 1.5C warming is inevitable and the percentage of global energy delivered through renewable sources.
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