The COP26 in Glasgow
We already know what a COP is, and how important they are for fight against climate change at different levels.
But what is the significance of this year's COP26 in Glasgow, what are the issues, negotiations and contextual reasons that make it particularly important?
If you have searched for information about it, or have come across information about it by chance, you may have read that this COP26 is important because it is one of the last (of the very last) opportunities of mankind has to reach agreements that will allow us to meet the goals set out in the Paris Agreement.
So what are the facts that make this COP26 so remarkable?
The end of the first cycle of NDCs
In the Paris Agreement it was established that the different states, independently or jointly (e.g. EU), must elaborate emission reduction targets in order to achieve the goals of the Agreement. These reduction targets and the explanation of how they will be implemented are called Nationally Determined Contributions, which must be reviewed and renewed every 5 years.
The first NDCs were submitted from 2015, and all were to be submitted in 2020, after 5 years for, as mentioned above, their review and update. You can find the updated list of NDCs for the different countries this link.
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the COP was suspended and the deadline was extended one year more, until 2021.
Therefore, COP26 should discuss the progress made with the NDCs, how useful they have been, what needs to be improved and start its second period.
IPCC Sixth Assessment Report
In August 2021, a few months before COP26, IPCC Panel 1 (see the "Sources of Information" section) published its part of the sixth assessment report on Climate Change in which, based on rigorous scientific facts, it informs us that we have less and less time left to find a solution that will lead us to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement, the consequences of not achieving it and the current state of the main trends concerning climate change, providing models that predict different global scenarios depending on the measures taken to combat it.
According to this report, if we continue with current trends, in all the different future scenarios, the average global temperature increase will exceed 1.5ºC compared to pre-industrial times during the first years of the 2030s.
Therefore, the publication of this report on the eve of COP26 is a very important wake-up call for effective action towards a green transformation of our societies and the world, not only to achieve the goals of the Agreement but also for ensuring a brighter future.
As Alok Sharma stated (COP26 president), this must be a COP when the spirit of acting NOW, fast action, and when states take the lead and work together to accelerate the shift to a green future. It must be the COP where we begin to move away from the use of coal for energy, use of polluting vehicles and deforestation; the COP when developed states transfer the finance they promised to developing states.
In addition to UN staff, state negotiators and representatives of NGOs, IGOs and other groups, an estimated 120 heads of state are also expected to be in Glasgow - a rare and remarkable sight. All in all, we are talking about more than 20,000 delegates from all UNFCCC states parties present in the city for two weeks!
The driving force behind COP26 is the urgency to act, the awareness that we are closer than ever to several tipping points and that we are facing one of the last opportunities to find and implement real, feasible and practicable solutions; and that if significant and ambitious agreements are not made to correct the current course, the cost "we will pay" in the future will be too high.