COP26 is coming to Glasgow – What should we expect?

What is COP26? 

COP26 is the name of the upcoming international conference on climate change. COP26 stands for Conference of the Parties; said “parties” consist of upwards of 30,000 people, coming together in Glasgow. The 30,000 represent over 200 countries, businesses, NGOs, faith groups and many more. The countries attending will be those that signed the

Due to coronavirus, the conference was postponed from its original dates in November 2020 to 1st and 12th November 2021. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – a treaty that came into force in 1994.

Why is COP26 in Glasgow? 

This is the most significant summit the UK has ever hosted, and it will be held in Glasgow, a city that is internationally recognised for its progressive steps in combatting climate change. The official COP26 site states that Glasgow has been chosen because it is one of the greenest cities in Europe. It is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2030. It has recently been given Global Green city status as of 2020. The award, which the United Nation’s Environment Programme supports, puts Glasgow on the same level as previous winners such as Vancouver, Vienna and Yokohama. 2020’s award was shared with Changshan, Zhejiang Province, China. Glasgow won this award due in part to the Climate Emergency Implementation Plan that was published by the city council. This extensive 94-page PDF details to the public their 52 point plan for battling climate change and their proposed steps towards 2030 carbon neutrality.

Who is attending COP26? 

There are three types of attendees to COP26; these include representatives of Parties to the Convention and Observer States, members of the press and media, and representatives of observer organisations.

representatives of Parties to the Convention and Observer States
(these are organised in “blocks” or “groupings”)
G77 plus China’ is a grouping of developing and middle-income countries
Africa Group
Least Developed Countries (LDCs)
Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF)
‘Umbrella’ Group is a loose coalition of non-EU developed countries,
including Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the Russian Federation,
and the US.
Small Island Developing States (SIDS)
Alliance of Small Island States AOSIS
AILAC Independent Alliance of Latin America and the Caribbean
BASIC – Brazil, South Africa, India and China (middle income countries)
Arab Group  
Observers The United Nations System and its Specialised Agencies, such as
UN Development Programme (UNDP), World Health Organisation
(WHO) and UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Intergovernmental organisations (IGOs), such as the OECD, OPEC
or the International Energy Agency (IEA).
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which are made up of
9 UN ‘Major Groups’ defined at the Rio Earth Summit (1992)
ENGOs (environmental NGOs)
BINGOs (business and industry)
RINGOs (research community)
YOUNGOs (youth)
TUNGOs (trade unions)
Indigenous peoples
Local Authorities
Women
Farmers
Faith interventions
The Holy See (central governing body of the Catholic Church)
Islamic leaders
Since 2016 the UNFCCC secretariat also recognises the following
groups as informal NGO groups:
Faith Based Organisations (FBOs);
Education and Capacity Building and Outreach NGOs (ECONGO);
Parliamentarians.  
PressThe Press

Members of the public can also attend the event, but if they wish to do so, they must volunteer or attend as a representative of an observer organisation. An organisation must first be granted “observer status”. Information on how to obtain Observer Status can be found through this link. People are also allowed to perform, hold an event or sell goods within the two week period.

Alok Sharma is the appointed full-time president of COP26, and his biography and political history can be found here. His most recent previous duties have been Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Many world leaders attending COP26 will also be attending a conference at The White House in climate change preceding the event in Glasgow. Joe Biden has invited the following:

  • Prime Minister Gaston Browne, Antigua and Barbuda
  • President Alberto Fernandez, Argentina 
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Australia    
  • Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh
  • Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, Bhutan
  • President Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil    
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada          
  • President Sebastián Piñera, Chile 
  • President Xi Jinping, People’s Republic of China    
  • President Iván Duque Márquez, Colombia    
  • President Félix Tshisekedi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Denmark 
  • President Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission
  • President Charles Michel, European Council
  • President Emmanuel Macron, France        
  • President Ali Bongo Ondimba, Gabon        
  • Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany 
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India    
  • President Joko Widodo, Indonesia      
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel
  • Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Italy    
  • Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Jamaica
  • Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Japan  
  • President Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya      
  • President David Kabua, Republic of the Marshall Islands
  • President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico  
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand
  • President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria        
  • Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Norway 
  • President Andrzej Duda, Poland  
  • President Moon Jae-in, Republic of Korea     
  • President Vladimir Putin, The Russian Federation  
  • King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore
  • President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa 
  • Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, Spain
  • President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey
  • President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, United Arab Emirates
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson, United Kingdom
  • President Nguyễn Phú Trọng, Vietnam    

Why is COP26 important? 

COP26 is a vital discussion for the entire globe. Climate change is the most pressing matter for every human existing on this planet. This was made clear by the salient words of Greta Thunberg in 2019. “My message is that we’ll be watching you. This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. Yet I am one of the lucky ones. People are suffering.”

In 2015 the Paris Agreement was established. It was an international agreement to tackle climate change, which was agreed by leaders when 195 countries attended COP21 in Paris. This agreement has gone on to inform all the following COP events and consisted of the following points:

  • Reduce the amount of harmful greenhouse gasses produced and increase renewable types of energy like wind, solar and wave power
  • Keep global temperature increase “well below” 2C (3.6F) and try to limit it to 1.5C
  • Review progress made on the agreement every five years
  • Spend $100 billion a year in climate finance to help poorer countries by 2020, with a commitment to further finance in the future.

In 2020 the United States officially pulled out of the deal – although President-elect Joe Biden may re-join – and there is still lots of debate about exactly how the agreed goals should be achieved. This debate will continue in COP26 of this year, as that is its purpose. It seems likely that president Joe Biden will re-join the USA to the agreement due to his own call to arms against climate change from the world leaders previously listed.

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