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COP26 UN climate talks

The COP UN Climate Talks are an annual climate conference hosted by the United Nations (UN). This year, the 26th conference will be taking place in Glasgow between October 31st and November 12th 2021. 

Why does it matter?

It has been a trying year for our environment, with mass floods across parts of Europe, wildfires across Siberia and Greece, and a code red climate emergency instigated by the IPCC in their latest report. The time for change is now and we need, more than ever, to take immediate and effective action to preserve our planet and in particular to protect vulnerable communities already being greatly impacted by climate change but not responsible for it and unable to make the vital changes necessary. 

What are the main goals of COP26?

COP26 has outlined 4 key goals to discuss and implement throughout the talks.

1. Secure global net-zero by the mid-century, keeping the Paris 1.5°C target within reach.

2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats.

3. Mobilise finance.

4. Work together to finalise the Paris Rulebook and accelerate action that tackles the climate crisis.

The topic of how to reduce carbon emissions will be a key focus. This includes setting reasonable targets like those outlined by the 2015 Paris agreement which aimed to limit global heating by a maximum of 1.5°C. An important element of these discussions will cover finance solutions to the climate crisis and consider how we can assist poorer countries in dealing with the detrimental effects of climate change. 

What makes COP26 unique from other climate summits is its inclusion of the Global South in talks. South America, Africa, and parts of Asia are all able to participate with equal weighting and discuss the climate with industrialised countries like the USA, Japan and the UK. Since the negative effects of natural disasters and poor recycling practices are often experienced by developing nations in the Global South, it is significant that a broader range of nations are included in COP26 and that the solutions reached include everyone. 

However, there are concerns from both environmental and social justice campaigning groups that the Glasgow talks are likely to fail.  The profits of big companies both funding and producing this pollution depend on inaction. Many of these companies are sponsoring the event and will have a place at the negotiating table to ensure their interests are protected. 

In addition, there is great concern that the UK Government, despite claiming to be championing a green future are actively investing in fossil fuel projects both in the UK and internationally that place this reputation in tatters and contribute further to climate change.

Like to get involved ? 

The general public cannot attend the official COP26 talks. The conference is attended by negotiating teams, observers from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), UN representatives, officials representing multiple countries, and members of the press and media. However, there will be 1000’s of activists in Glasgow during the talks to remind Government’s that they must take meaningful action. 

Not everyone can go to Glasgow but there are plenty of opportunities to support those journeying to Scotland as they pass through Manchester. Keep an eye out for groups visiting over the next month. 

To learn more about the Talks 

Find out more about the UN Climate Talks here via Glasgow Calls Out polluters,  Friends of the Earth Scotland and Friends of the Earth EWNI’s – COP26 for beginners guide

A Global Day of Action will be held on Saturday 6th November 2021 and there will be events held over COP26 across the region. See our website for details of what events are planned.

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