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What is COP26?

Updated: May 28, 2023

COP means the Conference of the Parties , the Parties or signatories of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. World leaders will meet in Glasgow on 1st to 12th November to see where they’ve got to in meeting their carbon (greenhouse gas) reduction targets (easy to answer that - not far enough). They’ll also “ratchet up” the targets agreed in Paris in 2015, promising to go faster in mitigating climate change. Another important theme is funding for poor countries, currently suffering most from climate change, to help them deal with climate change. In Paris $100 billion was pledged but we are still at least $15 billion short of that.The UK is the host and the “President”, the UK lead, is Alok Sharma. The UK has reduced its carbon emissions, through more renewable energy but also through not counting the greenhouse gases emitted in producing and transporting all the things we buy which are produced across the world.

Outside the high-level negotiations, many thousands of pressure groups, think tanks, community organisations and individual

s will be there too, trying to get their voices heard in formal meetings and on the streets. Other gatherings are taking place in major UK cities such as Manchester, especially on 6th November.

COP26 has been described as the last chance to save us from climate change, and perhaps it is. Or you may feel it’s just another international meeting with powerful people talking to each other over posh dinners.For me, with climate change and nature breakdown visible all around us, what’s really important is not the pledges made before and during the conference, but for governments to acting decisively on their promises and support others to do so too.

It may all sound rather hopeless. Too often governments don’t do what they promise, but they do sometimes respond to pressure, from groups and individuals. Recently I’ve heard a lot about putting pressure on politicians. There’s also joining groups which taken environmental issues seriously, not just environmental groups but also the many others who realise how important this is.

And if you’re worried about your own carbon footprint, well, all consumption produces carbon emissions, so you could just use less. Specifically, the biggest impacts for most people are: transport, especially flying; housing, especially heating; and buying lots of stuff. So: don’t fly, use your car less, insulate your house if you can and buy a heat pump. Food is also a big source of greenhouse gases and disruption of nature. You can help by eating less meat and only eating locally- produced meat, thinking about food miles and eating seasonally.

If you’re at all interested you will have heard all this before now, but everyone needs a reminder now and again - not least those people soon to meet in Glasgow.

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