COP26 reflections


When Prime Minister Boris Johnson told world leaders at the COP26 opening ceremony that the climate crisis was at “one minute to midnight”, he unintentionally foreshadowed how the conference would end. But after a two-day extension and three published drafts, the United Nation’s Climate Conference ended on Sunday with almost 200 countries agreeing to “keep 1.5C alive” and finalise the outstanding elements of the Paris Rulebook.

A week on from the Conference’s official end, we reflect on the most significant accomplishments of #COP26 in our fight against climate change:


Investing for Net Zero


The first COP26 goal is to ‘secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach’. In pursuit of this, countries are called on to take a number of steps, including accelerating the phasing out of coal, curtailing deforestation, speeding up the switch to electric vehicles, and encouraging investment in renewables.

The public and private sectors have a huge role to play in reducing emissions and driving towards our net zero goals. Whether it be by changing their own daily practices, adopting green technologies, or by investing in innovation and supporting research and development, all their actions – and the precedents they set – bring us another step closer. In recent years, many companies have shifted their investments towards net zero projects, or invested in measures to make their own operations net zero.


Everything you need to know about COP26


COP26…in 2021?

COP stands for Conference of the Parties, under the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). While it would be pleasing if the annual number lined up with the current year, COP meetings began in 1995, following almost every year since. The UNFCCC was established in 1992, to ensure that every country on Earth would be treaty-bound to “avoiding dangerous climate change” – bringing world leaders together to find ethical solutions for reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions.

This year’s event will be held in Glasgow, between Sunday 31st October and Friday 12th November. Hosting is attainable for any nation and tends to sway between developed and developing countries. Previous noteworthy COPs include Copenhagen, Kyoto, Lima and Durban, with each focusing on various issues and being concluded with varying degrees of success. This year’s iteration is being co-hosted with Italy, including a pre-COP and youth COP in Milan, as well as hosting the G20 leader’s meeting a few days before COP26.


COP26 – the world’s “last best chance” at tackling climate change


With less than one week to go before the COP26 summit in Glasgow commences, there is feverish speculation as to who will be attending and what commitments will be made.

The conference, which takes place from 31 October to 12 November, comes almost six years after the landmark Paris Agreement. As many of the global commitments made in 2015 remain a work in progress, it is hoped that COP26 will give governments a chance to build upon the Paris framework and renew their commitment to tackling climate change.


Action on Biodiversity


Delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the first part of the UN’s 15th Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15 or “Biodiversity COP”) being held this week brings into focus the urgent need for immediate action on global biodiversity.

Held as a precursor to the in-depth negotiations expected to take place in person in May 2022 and positioned ahead of COP26, the resounding message is a need to “raise the ambition” and agree a new global deal to reverse biodiversity loss by 2050. During the conference, 100 countries signed up to the Kunming Declaration. This non-binding document pledges “to reform incentive structures, eliminating, phasing out or reforming subsidies and other incentives that are harmful to biodiversity” and “to mobilise additional financial resources from all sources, and align all financial flows in support of the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.”