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.

    You’ve likely heard the phrase COP26 being bandied around, but do you know what it stands for or what the event actually is?

    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.

    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 explain exactly what COP26 is, what it stands for, and what you need to know about the annual event.

    So, what is COP26?

    As above, an annual meeting where global leaders discuss how to act on climate change. 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.

    Reporting by Rosie Grant

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