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The United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres recently said, '2021 is a make or break year to confront the global climate emergency.' This means that action taken now will decide whether we succeed or fail completely. 'If this task was urgent before, it's crucial now,' said Patricia Espinosa, a UN climate change leader. The COP26 summit is seen as a last opportunity to limit climate change to 1.5ºC and meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
What is COP26?
This year will see the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference. These events are also known as 'COPs', which stands for 'Conference of the Parties'. The conference was due to take place in 2020, but it was postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The meeting of world leaders will now be held from 1 to 12 November 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland. The United Kingdom and Italy are the hosts and share the presidency this year. Sir David Attenborough, the British natural historian and much-loved TV personality, has been named the COP26 People's Advocate for climate change as part of the preparations.
The 2015 Paris Agreement
COP26 is an opportunity to get the world on track to meet the objectives of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which was signed at COP21. The Paris Agreement represented an important moment in the climate change process because it was the first time there was a legal agreement bringing countries together to act. Since then, 190 countries have joined the Paris Agreement. The goal is to keep global warming to well below 2ºC, ideally 1.5ºC. To do this, countries need to reduce CO2 emissions as much and as fast as possible. However, time is running out. Despite the Paris Agreement, not enough has been done to limit climate change or to manage its impact on people and the planet.
What's the plan now?
The aim of the COP26 conference is to bring international leaders together to make faster progress towards the goals of the Paris Agreement. The UN is asking the biggest CO2-emitting countries to come to COP26 with ambitious plans to cut their emissions. The 2021 event has four goals, set by its hosts, the UK and Italy:
- agreeing to more ambitious action to reduce carbon emissions
- strengthening adaptation to the effects of climate change
- making money available for climate action
- improving the way countries work together on energy change, clean road transport and nature.
COP26 brings together country leaders, experts and environmental campaigners to work on the biggest challenge the world faces today. It is time for people to come together to take ambitious and fast action against the climate crisis.
Find out how you can get involved by visiting the British Council's Climate Connection site: https://www.britishcouncil.org/climate-connection