What is COP26? Glasgow 2021 climate conference explained, dates, what’s on the agenda - what are its goals?

The summit will involve calls to phase out of coal, curtail deforestation, speed up the switch to electric vehicles, and encourage investment in renewables

Next month sees world leaders and representatives of the world’s nations descend on Glasgow for Cop26.

The meeting is the most important round of UN talks since the global Paris Agreement to tackle climate change was secured in two weeks of negotiations in the French capital in 2015.

Ministers are keen for the Cop26 conference to involve face-to-face meetings and speeches after the event was delayed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here is everything you need to know about it.

Where is it being held?

The SEC complex in Glasgow will host the gathering of world leaders for two weeks from 31 October and those attending will be greeted by volunteers from across Scotland.

Volunteers will wear uniforms made from recycled and sustainable fabrics made by Falkirk-based company Lion Safety.

Glasgow City Council received 10,000 Cop26 volunteer applications. The youngest of the successful applicants is aged 16 and the oldest aged 78.

A tree will be planted for every volunteer uniform provided through a partnership with environmental charity One Tree Planted.

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

They will work at transport and accommodation hubs, active travel routes and at the conference’s green zone, which is open to the public.

Young people, businesses and community groups will be among those holding events open to the public in a “green zone” during the Cop26 climate change conference.

More than 200 events will be hosted in the zone at the Glasgow Science Centre from 1 to 12 November.

The green zone will showcase cultural performances, exhibitions, talks, film screenings and technical demonstrations, with people from the fields of academia and art among those taking part.

Tickets will be available free of charge to members of the public via the Cop26 website from 11 October and most events will also be streamed live on the Cop26 YouTube channel.

What will happen at Cop26?

Key themes in the Cop26 climate summit will be explored on different days, a timetable for the United Nations conference shows.

After kicking off with the World Leaders Summit on 1 and 2 November, each day will focus on a different theme, beginning with finance, energy and then youth and public empowerment, throughout the two-week event in Glasgow.

Others include discussions on cities of the future, zero-emission transport and protecting nature, to ensuring the inclusion of women, girls and young people is at the centre of climate action, said Cop26.

Published in July, the timetable, called the UK’s Presidency Programme, “will run alongside the formal negotiations which sit at the heart of the UN summit and will focus on closing off the outstanding aspects of the Paris Agreement”, it added.

What are the goals of Cop26?

The four main goals of Cop26 are: “Secure global net-zero by mid-century and keep 1.5C degrees within reach; adapt to protect communities and natural habitats; mobilise finance, and work together to deliver.”

The summit will involve calls to accelerate the phasing out of coal, curtail deforestation, speed up the switch to electric vehicles, and encourage investment in renewables.

In May of this year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he hopes the Cop26 climate summit will hammer out the final details of “an era-defining outcome” for the planet and future generations.

“This will be the decade in which we either rise up and tackle climate change together or else we sink together into the mire,” he said.

“And this year at Cop26 will be the moment the world chooses which of these two fates awaits us.

“I hope that in November we can meet in person in Glasgow to hammer out the final details of what must be an era-defining outcome for our planet and for future generations.”

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the success of Cop26 rests on achieving a breakthrough on finance and helping countries adapt to the impacts of climate change.

“Developed countries must honour their long-standing promise to provide 100 billion US dollars annually for climate action in developing countries,” he said.

“I call on the leaders of the G7 to take the lead, with other developed countries following, to make substantial climate finance pledges for the coming five years.”

When is Cop26?

The United Nations summit runs from 31 October to 12 November in Glasgow.

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