This web page is up to date usually to incorporate the newest information and tales from the COP26 convention. Final replace 11/3/21 4:15 p.m. ET.
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COP is an acronym for “Convention of Events.” In UN-speak, a COP is analogous to a gathering of Congress or one other legislative physique, besides they’re simply speaking about local weather change on a regular basis. In local weather land, COPs convene to cope with issues associated to the United Nations Framework Conference on Local weather Change, or UNFCCC, which is the massive UN treaty that dictates that international locations want to come back collectively to determine learn how to cease world warming.
Annually, representatives from all of the international locations within the treaty collect in the identical bodily house to hammer out worldwide local weather change motion and coverage associated to the UNFCCC. COP26 is the precise title of this yr’s massive local weather change assembly.
Who’s attending COP26?
Every of the 192 international locations who’ve signed on to the Paris Settlement have despatched a cohort of delegates to signify them within the negotiations. It’s a lot of individuals: Round 20,000 delegates and 120 heads of state registered to attend. President Joe Biden is there together with 13 cupboard members and his high local weather advisers Gina McCarthy and John Kerry.
Learn Extra: A Non-Exhaustive Record of World Leaders Too Cowardly to Present As much as UN Local weather Talks
Within the video under, you may watch highlights from the “World Leaders Summit” at COP26, together with speeches from Boris Johnson, Joe Biden, David Attenborough and lots of extra world leaders and local weather activists.
So, does the “26” imply there have been 25 different COPs?
Sure. The UNFCCC was created in 1992, when 154 international locations signed a brand new treaty about local weather change. That treaty went into impact in 1994. The primary COP occurred in 1995 in Berlin, and COPs have met virtually yearly since then. (Final yr’s COP obtained postponed as a result of pandemic.)
That’s loads of conferences. Why haven’t we mounted local weather change by now?
The size of the issue will not be solely fairly massive, however the UN course of is fairly convoluted. Most COPs are full of lengthy discussions about minute technical particulars that pertain to completely different UN guidelines and parameters. Some COPs are principally devoted principally to determining technical particulars of explicit agreements.
In between all this process, you’ve obtained some fairly massive inquiries to reply, like how (and if) to carry greater international locations accountable for his or her fair proportion of worldwide carbon emissions; how a lot monetary support smaller international locations ought to get; and what the world can realistically accomplish versus what science says we have to do.
When you’ve almost 200 international locations, all with their very own pursuits, clamoring for enter on points giant and small, you’ve a recipe for consensus being robust to achieve and lots of conferences. Civil society and even fossil gas corporations additionally present as much as try to affect the talks, including yet one more layer. (Sadly, leaders appear to hearken to the latter greater than the previous up to now.)
If it’s referred to as COP26, what’s the Glasgow convention?
Glasgow is the place this yr’s COP is being held, for the reason that UK is internet hosting COP. Yearly, the “presidency” of a COP—the nation that runs the present and principally makes certain everybody will get alongside and stuff will get executed—switches, and the assembly is usually held in a metropolis inside that nation. That mentioned, current COPs have been held in international locations aside from the host. Chile held the presidency of COP25, however it moved the convention to Spain because of protests about rising inequality. (Chile was solely the host as a result of Brazil backed out after Jair Bolsonaro gained the presidency.)
However often, the title of the town the place talks are held is synonymous with that individual COP. In 2015, France was the host of COP15, which is how we obtained the title of the Paris Settlement.
What’s the Paris Settlement?
On the Paris COP, 192 international locations got here to an settlement to get the world off fossil fuels and to try to keep away from, at most, 2 levels Celsius (3.6 levels Fahrenheit) of extra warming by the tip of this century. The settlement units an aspirational goal of avoiding 1.5 levels Celsius (2.7 levels Fahrenheit) of warming as properly due to the advocacy of small island nations. As a part of the Paris Settlement, international locations agreed to submit their very own plans that may element how a lot they plan to chop greenhouse gasoline emissions.
This sort of settlement could sound very primary, however it was an enormous deal for the UN course of. Again in 2009, international locations had been hoping to succeed in the same settlement, however the negotiations, as a substitute, ended dramatically on the final day of the convention in what amounted to a diplomatic meltdown. Agreeing on these things is robust!
If the world signed the Paris Settlement in 2015, shouldn’t we be executed with these conferences by now?
Paris was by no means meant to be the ultimate phrase on how the world would sort out local weather change. Contemplate it extra of a starter blueprint. The settlement is modeled on international locations submitting more and more aggressive plans for reducing emissions each couple of years. We’ve additionally seen within the intervening years how fragile the settlement is. The Paris Settlement is a relatively bare-bones settlement to do one thing about rising greenhouse gasoline emissions.
Nevertheless it’s additionally nonbinding, which is why former President Donald Trump was in a position to pull the U.S. out with no sanctions or penalties. It’s additionally why President Joe Biden may simply rejoin it and submit a brand new pledge like nothing occurred.
What is occurring at COP26?
Negotiators are engaged on loads of completely different mechanisms meant to assist international locations report local weather targets and talk with one another, together with setting frequent timeframes for NDCs and a frequent transparency framework that helps international locations see one another’s progress and construct belief that everybody is doing their local weather homework. They’re additionally discussing learn how to perform guarantees made on local weather finance, particularly how wealthier international locations tackle duty for serving to poorer ones transition their economies and adapt to local weather change.
The precise negotiations are closed to the general public, however there’s loads of exercise that goes on outdoors the conferences as properly. 1000’s of spectators from what’s referred to as “observer organizations”—NGOs, youth organizations, companies, coverage teams—come to COP to cheer the delegates and the method on, try to goad them a technique or one other, and customarily contain themselves within the negotiations as a lot as doable from the sidelines.
Lots of these teams placed on demonstrations, discussions, and different occasions—many together with celebrities and world leaders that get loads of information consideration and might, to some extent, inform what’s happening in discussions. International locations can even placed on their very own occasions, a few of which might be fairly telling about these international locations’ priorities contained in the negotiations. (At COP24, the Trump administration placed on a woefully unhappy panel solely dedicated to defending coal.)
Why is COP26 vital?
There are a few key benchmarks within the Paris Settlement that can characteristic on this yr’s negotiations, so this COP isn’t going to be all about technical particulars—we’re certain to see some throwdowns and fights over massive points.
Maybe equally importantly, there’s additionally been loads of science and analysis since we’ve final held a COP that illustrates the urgency of appearing as shortly as doable on local weather. The Worldwide Power Company mentioned earlier this yr that every one new fossil gas exploration wanted to finish solely by 2022 in an effort to hold us underneath 1.5 levels Celsius (F). And in August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Local weather Change, one other UN physique, launched a report outlining simply how a lot the planet has modified—and the way critical issues are going to get if we don’t act now. It’s ample to say that the worldwide ambiance round local weather change in all probability hasn’t been this intense going into some other COP.
Learn extra: COP26 could be the world’s finest shot to lastly begin winding down greenhouse gasoline emissions tied to burning fossil fuels.
Will issues change after COP26? Are we going to repair local weather change?
To not exaggerate, however there’s quite a bit using on this explicit COP. If the UN can buck the development of seeming each assembly ending with contentious non-agreements and are available collectively in a uncommon second of unity, we’ll have a robust framework to work with as we work out learn how to get emissions down over the subsequent couple of years. If enterprise proceeds as standard, properly… cross your fingers.
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