Credit: Lucy Dunn

What’s going on with COP26?

By Matt Laing

Science & Tech Editor Matt Laing gives us a brief overview of what COP26 is, and what the discussions occurring over this fortnight will involve, with regular coverage to follow.

Held from 31 October to 12 November, Glasgow is playing host to the UN Global Climate Change Conference – number 26. For nearly two weeks the leaders of the world and their attachés (nearly 25,000 of them) will gather to discuss how we are going to save the planet and curb climate change. So what’s actually going on? And what on earth does “COP” stand for?

“COP” stands for “Conference of the Parties”, and the conferences are held annually – give or take. COP26 was actually supposed to take place in Glasgow in 2020, but Covid-19 got in the way.

The conference’s stated aims are: to achieve global net-zero emissions by “mid-century” – 2050; adapt to protect habitats and local communities; mobilise in excess of $100bn of finance (promised to developing countries by 2020, however this has not been achieved); to provide aid to enable communities to adapt; and, finally, to build consensus and cooperation in line with finalising lots of the decisions made at the Paris conference in 2015.

In addition to that, there is a veritable storm of media attention around the various events and conversations happening in conjunction with the conference. That takes the form of everything from Greta Thunberg and Sir David Attenborough to the potentially millions of protesters deluging into the city parks to protest everything from, well, the climate, to anti-government action.

So what to watch out for? The key agreement that is necessitated by current climate data is for as many countries as possible to sign up to be carbon neutral by 2030. This is predicted to ensure we don’t go past the crucial 1.5-degree temperature rise, after which the effects would be so horribly destructive to eco-systems, sea levels, and agriculture. People are also already seeing the real-life effects of the temperature rise, with rising sea levels affecting many in the Global South.

The Glasgow Guardian’s Science & Tech team will be churning out more digestible nuggets of information as we follow the climate conference from its beginning to its end, over the next fortnight. Keep your eyes peeled if you want to find out more about all the goings-on at COP, from forests and fossil fuels to methane and money.

If you have been following the climate conferences and would like us to cover particular topics, or even write them for us yourself, please get in touch at [email protected].


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