What does COP26 stand for? Meaning of UN Glasgow climate change summit name - and why it’s called COP

The full title of the event is the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference - so where do we get COP26 from?

As COP26 kicks off, many people are rightly asking: “What exactly does ‘COP’ stand for?”

The UN summit is being held in Glasgow’s SEC Centre until early November to “accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement”, a treaty aimed at keeping the rise in global temperatures to below 2c adopted in 2015.

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Originally due to be held in November 2020 at the same venue, the event was postponed for twelve months in light of the Covid-19 pandemic in Scotland.

But why is it called COP26? And what does the name stand for?

Here is everything you need to know.

What does ‘COP’ stand for?

It’s easy to assume that COP26 is a simple abbreviation of the event’s full title, shortened to make it roll off the tongue much more easily.

But that’s not the case.

The full title of the event is: the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference. So why is it not called the UNCCC? What does “Cop” actually stand for?

The reason that the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference is known as COP26 is because it brings together the Conference of the Parties for a number of treaties.

A conference of the Parties is the supreme governing body of an international convention, composed of representatives of all Parties and accredited observers of each treaty.

COP26 key facts: all you need to know about 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference. (Graphic: Kim Mogg / JPIMedia)

Cop will be attended by representatives and Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - established in the early 90s to combat "dangerous human interference with the climate system" - the Kyoto Protocol that commits state parties to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and the Paris Agreement.

Under the Paris Agreement, parties are required to attend such conferences at least once every five years, under a process colloquially known as the 'ratchet mechanism', designed to “ratchet up ambition to mitigate climate change”.

The Parties of COP26 are expected to commit to enhanced ambition since COP21, which was actually six years ago, due to the postponement of the COP26 event last summer due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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