COP26 Climate Summit – A Pivotal Moment in the Fight Against Global Warming

a digital marketer attending cop28

Since 1995, the United Nations has been bringing together countries, now totalling over 180, for global climate summits called COPs – short for ‘Conference of the Parties’. In that time, climate change has gone from being an environmental issue of remote concern to a global priority with COP26 event organisers working with every nation to reach an agreement on how to tackle climate change.

World leaders arrived in Scotland on the 31st October 2021 alongside tens of thousands of negotiators, government representatives, businesses and citizens. The main goal for the international summit, which concludes on 12th November 2021, is to help reduce emissions. This global issue has become increasingly concerning, especially with the commitments laid out in the 2015 UN summit in Paris not coming close to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, and with the window for achieving this continuing to close.

 

the cop21 logo for the paris climate change agreement

What is the Paris Agreement?

At the Paris COP21 summit, every country agreed to work together to limit global warming to no higher than 1.5 degrees and to make money available to deliver on these aims The Paris Agreement was introduced in order to reduce the alarming temperatures appearing across the globe. The commitment to aim for this temperature is important because every fraction of a degree of warming will result in the loss of many more lives lost and livelihoods damaged due to natural disasters.

Under the Paris Agreement, countries committed to bring forward national plans to set out how much they would reduce their emissions – known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or ‘NDCs’. Having identified which countries are the largest contributors to Earth’s climate crisis, world leaders agreed that every five years they would come back with an updated plan that would reflect how they would best tackle the issue.

What is expected at COP26?

Formal negotiations are at the heart of the event, though. The overall goals are securing global net zero by 2050 and keeping the world within 1.5C of warming. Developed countries have also been asked to deliver on their promise to raise £737,105,000.00 a year for those most vulnerable to climate change. This was agreed at COP15 in Copenhagen, but is yet to materialise. COP26 is said to be the most important summit since Paris in 2021.

Which world leaders are at COP26 and which world leaders have not attended?

More than 190 world leaders have been expected to attend, from Boris Johnson to Emmanuel MacronUS President Joe Biden arrived in Europe early to discuss the climate crisis with the Pope ahead of the event. Meanwhile, Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has made the long journey from down under. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is there, too. Alok Sharma, former Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, is COP26 President, meaning he is leading preparations and chair meetings. There are also a great number of other UN officials and environment ministers there to discuss the climate crisis.

It has been estimated that 30,000 people will have attended the COP26 conference, including film star Matt Damon. While he wasn’t there in person, he gave his speech by video link bringing a touch of Hollywood to the proceedings. Another person who attended the conference via video call was President Xi Jinping, as he was unable to commute to Glasgow due to Covid-19 restrictions. Vladimir Putin and Jair Bolsonaro also received a personal invite from Boris Johnson, but declined.

 

prince charles and the duchess of cornwall attending the cop26 conference in glasgow

Did The Royal Family and David Attenborough attend COP26?

The Queen “regretfully” was unable to attend the conference due to medical advice. So, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall attended the COP conference as the royal couple delivered an opening speech to the press and world leaders attending the talks in Glasgow. David Attenborough also made a special guest appearance in Glasgow. He highlighted the importance of protecting nature by sharing how it is our last opportunity to make the necessary step-change towards preserving the planet.

To help support the #TogetherForOurPlanet movement and the powerful speech presented by David Attenborough, Embryo is supporting this COP plan by helping to reduce carbon emissions deforestation across the planet. We are supporting Ecologi’s mission to reduce CO2 by replanting trees to the fossil fuels in the air by improving our air quality. So far, since creating our Embryo page with Ecologi, we have replanted 125 trees and we aim for this to continue growing into 2022.

What were the goals of this climate change conference?

The main goals of this climate change conference are securing global net zero by 2050 and keeping the world within 1.5C of warming. Developed countries have also been asked to deliver on their promise to raise money from banks across the world, including contributions from the Bank of England and America, to those most vulnerable to climate change. Countries have been asked how they intend to reach ‘net zero’ – producing fewer carbon emissions by 2050. By the time the conference closes on 12th November, it’s hoped that leaders will have made serious pledges to end coal use, invest in renewables and switch to electric vehicles.

The top 4 goals

  • All UN countries attending COP26 must be 1.5 degrees by 2030

Countries are being asked to come forward with ambitious targets for 2030 emission reductions that align with reaching net zero within the next 30 years.

To deliver on these targets, countries will need to:

  • Accelerate the phasing out of coal
  • Curtail deforestation
  • Speed up the switch to electric vehicles
  • Encourage investment in renewables

2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats

The climate is already changing, and it will continue to change even as we reduce emissions, with devastating effects. World leaders at the COP26 conference will need to work together to enable and encourage countries affected by climate change to:

  • Protect and restore ecosystems.
  • Build defences, warning systems and resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and even lives.

3. Mobilise finance

To deliver on the first two goals, developed countries must make good on their promise to mobilise at least £737,105,000.00 in climate finance. Here, international financial institutions must do their bit, working across the trillions of money banked between both the private and public sector, to secure global net zero.

4. Work together to deliver

The UN can only rise to the challenges of the climate crisis by working together.

World leaders attending the COP26 aim to:

  • Finalise the Paris Rulebook (the detailed rules that make the Paris Agreement operational)
  • Accelerate action to tackle the climate crisis through collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society

How can businesses reduce their carbon footprint?

COP26 is encouraging businesses, large and small, and from every corner of the world, to join the #RaceToZero. Race To Zero is a global initiative, backed by science-based targets, to commit businesses, cities, regions, investors and universities to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 at the very latest.

Businesses that are joining the Race to Zero campaign must pledge:

  • For their business operations to hit net zero as quickly as possible, setting at least a target of a 50% emissions reduction by 2030 latest.
  • To do this, within a year of signing up, the business must have strategised a plan outlining exactly how they’re going to hit those targets.
  • The business then must take that action and publish their results annually on the progress made.

The Race to Zero campaign offers a network of support to these businesses in reaching their targets. COP26 has seen the UK’s largest businesses leading the way in sign ups, with 60% of FTSE100 companies now committed to this global effort to reduce carbon emissions.