In Glasgow, Scotland, for two weeks at the beginning of November, world leaders gathered for the UN Climate Change Conference of 2021. The goal of the Conference, also known as COP26, was “uniting the world to tackle climate change” (as stated on the UK COP26 website.) Hosted by the UK in partnership with Italy from Oct. 31-Nov.13, “The COP26 summit brought parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.”
The official United Nations climate change website states that the Paris Agreement is a “legally binding international treaty on climate change.” 6 years ago the Paris Agreement was adopted by 196 parties at COP21, held in Paris in April of 2015. The goal of the Paris Agreement is to unite all nations in a common goal against climate change – implementing drastic economic and social changes with the goal of limiting global warming to under 2 (but ideally 1.5 ) degrees Celsius. The Agreement aims to do this by reaching “global peaking of greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible to achieve a climate neutral world by mid-century.”
The ultimate goal of the UN Framework Convention, whic holds almost universal membership, as identified on the UNFCCC website, is “preventing ‘dangerous’ human interference with the climate system.” How far did COP26 go in taking action towards both the Paris Agreement and the UNFCCC?
The UKCOP26 website provides an overview of the COP26 negotiations, stating, “Climate negotiators ended two weeks of intense talks with consensus on urgently accelerating climate action.” The Glasgow Climate Pact manifests across the UNFCCC, the Paris
Agreement, and the CMP (or Kyoto Protocol), and all decisions made at COP26 fall under one of these treaties.
Goals of COP26 included finalizing the rules needed to implement the Paris Agreement as well as finalizing outstanding issues from COP25. COP26 also sought to address all essential points of negotiation for the 197 involved nations for 2020-2021, including setting timeframes for emission reduction, “enabling enhanced adaptation action,” “enabling ambition through carbon markets,” and ultimately “promoting fair, inclusive, climate action.”
According to “COP26: Negotiations Explained,” “The Glasgow Climate Pact, combined with increased ambition and action from countries, means that 1.5C remains in sight and scales up action on dealing with climate impacts, but it will only be delivered with concerted and immediate global efforts.”
As said on the UKCOP26 website, “Paris set the destination” and “Glasgow kept it alive.” Now it’s up to every country involved to take necessary action towards keeping the goal of minimizing global warming alive. A Nov. 15 tweet from Greta Thunberg, prominent climate change activist, reminds us that “the people in power don’t need conferences, treaties, or agreements to start taking real climate action. They can start today. When enough people come together then change will come and we can achieve almost anything. So instead of looking for hope – start creating it.”