CoP26: What is the UN Climate Conference and Why is it significant?- Know in detail

CoP26, the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties, hosted by the United Kingdom will bring together the biggest gathering of the world leaders ever assembled in the UK over the course of its 12-day run from October 31 to November 12, 2021.

Updated: Oct 18, 2021 15:09 IST

CoP26, the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties, will commence in Glasgow, Scotland, from October 31, 2021. The conference will be held a year after its postponement because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

CoP26, hosted by the United Kingdom under the presidency of the former Business Secretary Alok Sharma and in partnership with Italy, will bring together the biggest gathering of the world leaders ever assembled in the UK over the course of its 12-day run from October 31 to November 12, 2021.

The 197 signatories to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be represented in Glasgow, along with thousands of negotiators, businesses, government officials, and activists. The aim will be to make their voices heard and see a comprehensive plan to realize the goals of the 2015 Paris agreement and avert the global climate catastrophe that the Earth faces.

CoP26: What it aims to do?

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference seeks to firm up the commitments that were made in Paris. Its states specific concerns are:

1. Securing global net-zero carbon emissions by the middle of this century and keeping the planet’s end-of-century temperature increase down to 1.5C

2. Adapting to protect the communities and the natural habitats that are on the frontline of extreme weather events caused by global warming.

3. Ensuring that the developed world drums up at least $100 billion in climate finance every year.

4. Agreeing to the conditions under which the world can work together to tackle the crisis as one.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, while speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2021 underlined the significance of the upcoming summit. He said that Glasgow CoP26 is a turning point for the world. There are changes that we are going to have to make but people must be optimistic.

What is UNFCCC?

The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was first signed at the June 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil by 154 countries.

It was intended as a treaty to rein in ‘a dangerous human interference with the climate system’, primarily by stabilizing the greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, whose dispersion drives global warming.

The UNFCCC framework called for an ongoing collaboration on scientific research. It also suggested regular meetings, negotiations, and policy agreements between the world governments ensure the fragile ecosystems will not be damaged by climate change, the global supply will remain unimpeded, and that the economic development can proceed sustainably.

Kyoto Protocol: Agreement between parties of UNFCCC

The first important agreement between the parties of UNFCCC was the Kyoto Protocol. It was signed in Kyoto, Japan in December 1997 and had set the strict emission reduction targets on six gases for 27 industrialized nations and European Union, but not the US or other major carbon-emitting countries such as India and China.

After the ratification by Canada and Russia, Kyoto Protocol came into effect in February 2005. It aimed to reduce the harmful emissions in the participating countries by 5% from 1990 levels in phase one (2008-12) and by 18% in phase 2 (2013-20).

Paris Agreement

The Paris agreement was drafted in December 2015 and was signed in April 2016. It was intended as a successor of the Kyoto Protocol, was applied to all 195 signatories and not just the developed nations.

The agreement obliged everyone to do their part in keeping the global temperature rise below 2C by the century’s end and for all the nations to hit net-zero emissions by 2050.

The United States was also on board until Republican Donald Trump succeeded Barack Obama and withdrew from the Paris Agreement. However, Trump lost after one term in office and was succeeded by Democrat Joe Biden who rejoined Paris Agreement on his first day.

Countries that signed up Paris Agreement are committed to nationally determined contributions and the individual emissions reduction targets that are tailored to their particular circumstances that are reassessed and reviewed every five years.

What is CoP?

The UN Climate Change Conferences are the yearly conferences that are held in the framework of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The conferences serve as the formal meeting of the UNFCCC Parties to assess the progress in dealing with the climate change. The first UN Climate Change Conference was held in Berlin in 1995. The conferences are also the platform for negotiating the Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement.

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