What is COP26?
COP26 is the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The summit will be attended by the heads of state of the countries that signed the UNFCCC, as well as a variety of climate experts and campaigners, in order to agree and accelerate action on the Paris Agreement. The UK, in partnership with Italy, is hosting the summit this year in Glasgow from 1 - 12 November 2021 after it was delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
COP26 will give parties an opportunity to assess how far along they have come in meeting initial Paris Agreement emission targets, and to set new targets for the next five-year cycle.
Paris Agreement Background
The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty on climate change adopted in December 2015 by 197 countries around the world. Its central aim is limiting the global temperature increase to 'well below' 2°C, compared to pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to further limit increases to 1.5 °C.
The Paris Agreement marked a turning point in the global effort to tackle the climate crisis, as it was the first-time nations from around the world entered into a legally binding agreement to combat climate change and adapt to its effects.
The agreement works on a five-year cycle of increasingly ambitious climate actions to be carried out by signatories. The initial target for 2020 required countries to:
- Announce 'nationally determined contributions' (i.e. the effort by each country to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change);
- Reveal their long-term strategy to decarbonise their economies by 2050; and
- 'Developed' countries to scale up their climate finance under the UNFCCC to at least US$100 billion per year by 2020 - to help the states considered to be most vulnerable to the impact of climate change.