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.”


The IPCC sixth assessment report – the physical science basis


Low Carbon‘s commitment to climate action

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s ground-breaking report,[1] compiled by a group of 234 scientists from 66 countries, showed that temperatures will exceed 1.5C above industrial levels within the next two decades unless fossil fuels are phased out. This report was the first part of the sixth assessment report and details the core underlying science regarding climate change – two further instalments on the impact of the climate crisis and ways of reducing those impacts will follow next year.  So far, the report  has shown that the emission of carbon dioxide, or CO2, caused by the burning of carbon-based fuels, is significantly contributing to global warming. This is expected to cause temperatures to exceed 1.5C above industrial decades. Described as a “code red for humanity”[2] the report is a powerful warning to us all and reinforces Low Carbon’s belief that climate change is the greatest emergency facing humanity.


Climate change and the role of renewable energy


The International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a landmark special report released on 18 May 2021 on the Global Energy Sector, that the climate pledges made by governments around the world to date would fall well short of what is required to bring global energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to net-zero by 2050 even if they were fully achieved. This means that these pledges are insufficient and would not give the world an even chance of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5 °C. In order to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, in their report the IEA purported that global investment in renewable energy needs to be ramped up significantly; investments in energy should be more than double from $2tn (£1.42tn) a year to $5tn (£3.54tn). The result would be a net benefit to the global economy.

While electricity generation is the single biggest contributor to climate change – responsible for 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions and growing every day[i][1] – it is an even bigger part of the solution. With clean electricity, we will unlock a source of carbon-free energy to help power the sectors of the economy that produce the other 75% of greenhouse gas emissions.