COP26 schedule: what is going to happen at the Glasgow climate change summit - and timetable of events

World leaders and their delegations are set to be in Glasgow between 31 October and 12 November

The COP26 climate change summit is happening in Glasgow between Sunday 31 October and Friday 12 November.

Dubbed as “the world’s best last chance to get runaway climate change under control” by the UK Government, those attending the summit will be under pressure to find solutions to the climate crisis.

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But what exactly is on the agenda for the politicians, business leaders and general public who are attending the event?

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What will happen at COP26?

COP26 will essentially encompass three main elements:

  1. Negotiations between world leaders 
  2. A conference of politicians, business leaders and non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
  3. A series of events that will be open to the general public.

The first two elements are set to take place around Glasgow’s Scottish Event Campus, with the third part taking place on the other side of the River Clyde at the Glasgow Science Centre.

Preparations are underway in Glasgow ahead of the COP26 climate change summit (image: AFP/Getty Images)

COP26 world leaders summit

The UK Government has said it will push countries to agree to “comprehensive, ambitious and balanced” measures to tackle climate change.

At the previous major summit in Paris in 2015, 196 nation states signed up to a goal of limiting global warming to “well below” two degrees celsius this century, with an ultimate aim of keeping it below 1.5 degrees celsius.

But the Government said it wants to accelerate this action even further.

Speaking in Paris on Tuesday 12 October, COP26 president Alok Sharma urged world leaders to agree to significantly reduce emissions by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050, at the summit.

Mr Sharma called for concrete action to deliver on these plans, for example, agreements on reducing coal usage, and for wealthy nations to put more money and support towards tackling the climate crisis.

“COP26 is not a photo op or a talking shop. It must be the forum where we put the world on track to deliver on climate. And that is down to leaders,” Mr Sharma said.

“Responsibility rests with each and every country. And we must all play our part. Because on climate, the world will succeed, or fail as one.”

His words came after a report published in August by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found the targets of the Paris Climate Treaty were unlikely to be met.

Meanwhile, the world has been rocked by a series of extreme weather events this year, including: heatwaves and drought across North America, severe flash flooding in Germany and London as well as forest fires in Europe.

Climate change has caused extreme weather events in 2021, such as the fatal flooding seen in Germany in July (image: Getty Images)

Negotiations timetable for COP26

World leaders, negotiators and their country’s other delegates face a gruelling two weeks of negotiations.

Between their arrival at COP26 on 31 October and departure on 12 November, they will have just one rest day.

Here is their timetable of events in full:

  • Sunday 31 October: Opening of the negotiations
  • Monday 1 November: World leaders summit day one (during this section of the negotiations, world leaders will be encouraged to put forward their ambitions and plans of action for securing net zero emissions globally and keeping the 1.5 degrees celsius Paris target in reach)
  • Tuesday 2 November: World leaders summit day two
  • Wednesday 3 November: Negotiators will look at ways of mobilising public and private finance to tackle the climate crisis
  • Thursday 4 November: Attendees will look at accelerating the global transition to clean energy
  • Friday 5 November: The summit will look at empowering youth and the wider public. It will also seek to demonstrate the critical role of public empowerment and education in climate action
  • Saturday 6 November: Negotiators will discuss nature and sustainable land use
  • Sunday 7 November: This will be a rest day for negotiators and other delegates
  • Monday 8 November: Delegates will talk about delivering the practical solutions needed for countries to adapt to climate impacts and address any loss and damage caused by climate change
  • Tuesday 9 November: The summit will take in two topics. First up will be gender and the role of equality in tackling the climate crisis. Attendees will then turn their focus to science and innovation and how it can help provide a solution to global warming.
  • Wednesday 10 November: Negotiators will look at transport and how countries can transition across to zero emission means of getting about 
  • Thursday 11 November: On the final full day of negotiations, countries will look at how communities, cities and regions can advance action to tackle climate change
  • Friday 12 November: Closing of the negotiations

Other events at COP26

While world leaders and their negotiating teams are thrashing out agreements, other politicians, business leaders and NGOs will be meeting to discuss climate change.

Discussions and events will broadly follow the topics set out in the negotiating timetable.

For members of the public with tickets from the COP26 Green Zone website, The Glasgow Science Centre will be open from 1 to 12 November.

The Centre will host more than 200 events, including: cultural performances, exhibitions, talks, film screenings and technical demonstrations.

These will be led by people and organisations from around the world.

For more information on what public events will be taking place, please head to the COP26 website.

People wishing to attend the public events will have to go through airport-style security checks.

They will also be subject to Scottish Covid-19 protocols. For example, guests will need to scan a QR code to check-in to the venue and will also be advised to wear a face covering during their visit.

COP26 key facts: all you need to know about 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference. (Graphic: Kim Mogg / JPIMedia)

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