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So, what is COP26 and why should I care?


Written by Cratus Associate Director, Vikki Slade

Although most people have heard of the Paris Climate Agreement, or even the Kyoto Protocol, I am sure I am not alone in previously having to look up what COP stood for. The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP) with the first event taking place in Germany in 1995.

The only year to have seen two COPs was in 2001, when the previous year’s event in The Hague collapsed without agreement and was reconvened in Bonn, Germany before the annual event took place as scheduled in Marrakech.

COP26 was due to take place in Glasgow late in 2020 but the worldwide pandemic put paid to their plans. Though, a significant number of International Youth Organisations staged a virtual event for young activists to demonstrate that issues surrounding climate change remain a global emergency, despite Covid-19.

The UK was the first major economy to pass into law a date – 2050 – for the nation to reach Net Zero. As the host country, one of the key outcomes listed by Alok Sharma, who is chairing the event for the UK, is to ask all UN members to commit a date for them to reach Net Zero as well.

As 2/3 of UK councils, many private companies and other organisations have made their own commitments in terms of a net zero date, the UK should be able to achieve this but for nations without grassroots support and mechanisms for delivery finding a method for securing this commitment will be interesting to observe.

Fundamentally, the principles of the Paris Agreement made in 2015 are still outstanding, with no mechanism or specific targets set. It is hoped that with the US making a new commitment to the agreement, that they will lead the way with a clear roadmap on targets relating to greenhouse gas mitigation, adaptations and finance, which others will be prepared to follow.

COP26 was always due to be an important step in the journey, coming 5 years after the Paris Agreement, but with the re-entry of America, the wildfires and other natural disasters that led us into 2020 and the global impact of a virtual pause button on so much industry and travel caused by Covid-19, its importance has been boosted.

At Cratus, we will be discussing all things COP26 in the next episode of our webinar series, What has the Environment Ever Done for Us?. Our forthcoming events surrounding decarbonizing energy – From Microgeneration to Powering the Nation – will help provide answers to the questions of how we as private citizens, businesses, local government, and infrastructure providers can set and achieve our own Net Zero targets, and limit the impact of Climate Change on future generations.

Please click here to register for our upcoming webinar on all things COP26.

So, what is COP26 and why should I care?