• Polymath Weekly

What to Know About COP26: a Simple Guide

Updated: Dec 27, 2021

What is COP26?


COP26 (Conference of the Parties 26) is the 26th UN climate change summit. This year, it is being hosted by the UK in Glasgow, Scotland and held from October 31st to November 12th. The first ever COP (aka COP1) took place in 1995.


UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Day 3 of COP26 [Image Source: Getty Images]

Who is attending?

  • Over 100 world leaders

  • 25,000 registered delegates from 200 countries

  • UK Member of Parliament Alok Sharma, the chair of COP26

  • Thousands of journalists, negotiators, campaigners and businesses from all around the world

Why is it happening?


According to the 2021 IPCC report's claims that the past decade was the warmest on record, governments of the world have agreed that collective action is needed. So, for the conference, 200 countries have been asked to present their plans to cut emissions by 2030.


What has been agreed at COP26?


In addition to nations' announced plans to cut emissions, there has been a number of additional announcements:

  • 450 organizations with a combined $130 trillion in assets (about 40% of global private assets) promised to support "clean" technology like renewable energy.

  • Over 100 international leaders promised to take action against deforestation, which is important because trees can absorb massive amounts of carbon dioxide and so have to be preserved with maximum effort.

  • More than 40 nations have promised to reduce their use of coal. Some of the world's most coal-dependent countries, such as Australia, India, China, and the United States, haven't.

  • More than 100 nations have signed on to a plan to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030. However, China, Russia, and India - the world's largest polluters - haven't joined.

Thoughts and Criticism of COP26


Scientists seem to have different opinions on the likelihood of success of the conference; Some argue that if the world acts fast, change is still possible. However, others believe the world's leaders are too late, and no matter what agreement is reached at COP26, 1.5C will not be achieved.


Many are doubting world leaders' devotion to tackling climate change, including activist Greta Thunberg:

"The COP has turned into a PR event, where leaders are giving beautiful speeches and announcing fancy commitments and targets, while behind the curtains governments of the Global North countries are still refusing to take any drastic climate action."

Regardless of the outcome, COP26 is one of the most important diplomatic meetings in history and might become a turning point in the fight against climate change.




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