What is COP26 and why is it important?

By Tom Blackburn

With the climate crisis rising further and further up the political agenda, world leaders are set to gather at the COP26 summit in Glasgow to discuss key environmental challenges.

Organisers hope that the event, which has already been delayed by a year due to the pandemic, will mark a major advance in the fight against climate change.

More than 190 leaders from across the globe will descend on Glasgow to take part in the discussions.

READ MORE: Is the government doing enough to tackle climate change?

But just what is COP26 - and why is it such a big deal?

What is COP26?

COP26 is a summit bringing together leaders from countries that are signed up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

It will provide an opportunity for politicians from around the world to discuss environmental targets and how they might be met.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will welcome COP26 attendees to Glasgow in November (Scottish Government/AFP via Gett)

Since 1994, the United Nations has organised COP conferences - standing for ‘Conference of the Parties’. COP26, as the name suggests, will be the 26th COP conference.

Why is COP26 important?

The environment is an increasingly important political priority, as the effects of climate change become more and more apparent across much of the world.

COP26 is therefore viewed as a key opportunity to secure more ambitious agreements on reducing carbon emissions and achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

At the last COP summit in 2019, environmental activist Greta Thunberg lambasted the political leaders in attendance for their lack of meaningful action on the climate crisis.

However, it isn’t yet clear whether Thunberg will attend COP26.

The Paris Agreement aims to reduce global carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 (Danny Lawson/PA Wire)

When and where will COP26 take place?

COP26 will be held at Glasgow’s Scottish Event Campus from November 1st to November 12th.

What do the organisers hope COP26 will achieve?

Organisers hope that the COP26 will result in speedier and more decisive measures to ensure that the goals of the Paris Agreement are met.

The Paris Agreement aims to reach net zero by 2050, as well as committing developed countries to provide at least $100 billion (£72.3 billion) in climate finance per year.

In 2019, the UK Parliament passed the Climate Change Act, which commits the UK to a net-zero target of 2050.

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