COP26: Your complete guide to the conference, plus how you can get involved

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  • It marks one of the most important climate events since 2015, when the landmark Paris Agreement was reached.

    Just weeks after the UN’s IPCC report hit headlines around the world, you may be feeling a little downbeat about the current climate crisis.

    A quick top-line, for it you missed it: evidence from over 14,000 research papers and 234 global scientists, professors and academics has concluded that climate change is ‘getting worse, fast’ and that the impact of greenhouse gases is now ‘unavoidable’. UN secretary general Antonio Guterres called it a ‘code red for humanity’.

    Prime minister Boris Johnson said on the matter: “The report makes for sobering reading, and it is clear that the next decade is going to be pivotal to securing the future of our planet. We know what must be done to limit global warming – consign coal to history and shift to clean energy sources, protect nature and provide climate finance for countries on the frontline.”

    “The UK is leading the way, decarbonising our economy faster than any country in the G20 over the last two decades. I hope today’s IPCC report will be a wake-up call for the world to take action now, before we meet in Glasgow in November for the critical COP26 summit.”

    FYI, the government website states that the UK is ‘already showing leadership’ with ‘clear plans to reduce emissions by 68% by 2030 and 78% by 2035, leading to net zero by 2050’.

    This week, Italy is hosting Youth4Climate in Milan and in November, the UK will host COP26 in Glasgow. Scientists are calling one of the most important global events of our lifetimes – here’s why.

    What is COP26? 

    In short, it’s the UN’s next climate change summit. COP stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’, and has the number 26 after it because it’s the 26th year that the committee have met.

    The annual event sees the heads of state from the countries that signed the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change get together. Over twelve days, they’ll discuss the most pressing climate change matters and try and decide a course of action for every country.

    This year, the UK and Italy have been chosen to host. It’ll be held in Glasgow in November, after being post-phoned last year due to COVID-19.

    It’s a pretty important annual meeting, and certainly the most important COP since the landmark Paris Agreement was reached in 2015. This year, understandably, there’s a lot to discuss – not just because the pandemic delayed discussions by a year, but because the effect climate change is having on our planet is becoming even more obvious.

    So far, the event is said to be hosting around 30,000 guests from 200 countries, including Australia, France, the Netherlands, America and more.

    When is COP26 being held?

    This year, the conference will be hosted in Glasgow for twelve days from 1st to 12th November 2021.

    Fun fact: last time COP was held was in 2019, negotiations lasted for a whole two days longer than they were supposed too. With discussions already delayed by a year this time around, who knows how long it’ll take.

    Pre-arrival, all parties have to submit documentation showing which targets they’ve reached over the past year, according to the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.

    Plus, the wealthier nations will be asked to disclose whether they’ve kept their promise of spending $100 billion yearly on climate finance.

    Why is COP26 being held in Glasgow?

    According to the COP26 website, Glasgow was picked for a few reasons – namely, it’s ‘experience, commitment to sustainability and world-class facilities.’

    The Scottish city aims to be carbon neutral by 2030 and also ranks fourth on the Global Destination Sustainability Index, making it one of the greenest cities in the world.

    How has the UK helped climate change so far?

    Again, as per the COP26 website, the UK has been ‘the fastest country in the G20 to completely decarbonise their economy since 2000’.

    While there’s still a long way to go, the UK is now also the largest producer of offshore wind energy in the world, and has cut back emissions by 40% since 1990.

    How you can get involved with COP26

    Sadly, volunteering applications for the conference are now closed. Want to help and truly make a change to our planet? You could try go plastic free, invest in sustainable beauty products or ethical fashion brands, or even start using eco-friendly sex toys, instead.

    Or, during 1st-12th November, why not host your own eco-friendly event in aid to support COP26? You heard it here first.

    There’s a whole load of information out there about sustainable living, greenwashing, your carbon footprint, and climate change generally. So, let us cut through the noise and inform yourself with Marie Claire UK’s expert-led sustainability guides.

    Reporting by Rosie Grant

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