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What is COP26?

You may have heard of COP26 on the news and online. But what actually is it? And why is it important? We explain the top points of COP26.

This November there will be very few people who will be able to avoid global news coverage about the upcoming COP26 summit. Years in the making, COP26 will mark a crucial moment in the fight against climate change. But as the world prepares to draw their eyes to the historic climate summit in Glasgow, it is important know what COP26 is all about.

COP26 is the next annual UN climate change conference. COP stands for Conference of the Parties, and the summit will be attended by the countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – a treaty that came into force in 1994.

This is the 26th COP summit and will be hosted in partnership between the UK and Italy. The conference will be held in Glasgow from 1-12 November 2021, a year later than planned due to delays caused by the COVID pandemic.

In the run up to COP26 the UK is working with every nation to reach agreement on how to tackle climate change. World leaders will arrive in Scotland, alongside tens of thousands of negotiators, government representatives, businesses and citizens for twelve days of talks.

Updating on The Paris Agreement.

COP26 is an important moment as it is the first climate conference since COP21 in 2015, which made history when each country committed to The Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement is an international agreement between countries to work together to limit global warming. Through the Agreement countries pledged to aim to reduce global warming by 1.5 degrees, to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate and to make finances available to tackle climate change.

Under the Paris Agreement, it was agreed that every five years countries would come together with updated plans on how they are tackling global warming. And so in the run up to COP26 in Glasgow, countries have been updating their action plans on reducing emissions.

The goals of COP26.

The UNFCCC has outlined four broad goals of what they want to achieve at COP26:

Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach. 

Countries are being asked to come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century. To achieve this, countries will need to accelerate the phase-out of coal, encourage investment in renewables, slow deforestation and speed up the switch to electric vehicles.

Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats.

At COP26 countries will need to work together to enable and encourage countries affected by climate change to protect and restore ecosystems, build defences, put warning systems in place and make infrastructure and agriculture more resilient to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and lives.

Mobilise finance. 

To make climate goals a reality, developed countries must deliver on their promise to raise at least $100bn in climate finance per year. International financial institutions must play their part and will need to work towards unleashing the trillions in private and public sector finance required to secure global net zero.

Work together to deliver.

The challenges of climate change can only be tackled through international collaboration. At COP26 countries must finalise the Paris Rulebook (the rules needed to implement the Paris Agreement) and work to turn ambitions into action by accelerating collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society to deliver on climate goals faster.

Raleigh International on COP26.

COP26 is an important moment in the global effort to tackle the climate emergency. We dare to remain hopeful that COP26 will be a moment for action, not excuses, on the fight against climate change. But while world leaders and institutions gather to discuss their plans, we will continue to stand by and support the work that young people are doing worldwide on climate initiatives in Tanzania, Nepal, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mongolia, Malaysia and the UK.

This is because believe that young people are the way out of the climate crisis. Young people are taking real action on environmental projects and are raising their voices on climate issues that affect their future. During COP26 we remain dedicated to supporting the actions of young people, listening to them and giving them the skills, knowledge and platforms to act for our planet.

We welcome COP26 to the UK. But it is young people that will be the most powerful solution to climate change.

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