COP26: what does it all mean?

The Conference of the Parties, is the decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC). All States that are Parties to the convention are represented at the COP, which takes place every year in a different location (or Bonn if a Party doesn’t offer to host). A key task for the COP is to review the national communications and emission inventories submitted by Parties.

The first COP meeting was held in Berlin, Germany in March 1995. This year, Glasgow was the host city for COP26, under the presidency of Alok Sharma MP.

What were the key moments?

Sir David Attenborough gave an impassioned speech to delegates and world leaders, sharing his hopes for COP26 as the People’s Advocate. 

Former President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, also addressed delegates at the conference and drew a lot of attention. 

It seems that now, most governments are taking note of the science presented by the IPCC, and its recent work highlighting the importance of avoiding the devastating impacts of global warming.

Key decisions:

  • The Glasgow Climate Pact signals a crucial step in global efforts to keep global warming to 1.5ºC, and implement the Paris Agreement (2015). 
  • The Pact and recent pledges keep 1.5ºC alive, but only just. Ahead of COP27 in Egypt, States need to fast track implementation of all pledges and national plans.
  • Among other areas, it was agreed to “phase-down” the use of coal, removing fossil fuel subsidies, a late change in wording away from “phase-out”.
  • Measurement and reporting progress is fundamental to ensure the delivery of targets. A major step forward has been the creation of the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), which will provide a global standard for reporting.
  • Targets were set for 2030 to see a reversal of deforestation and a 30% cut in global methane emissions.
  • The deal agreed in Glasgow gives us an invaluable framework for filling the gaps in ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance, and help get us on a shared pathway to a 1.5ºC future.

Candidate for Bromley Council, Will Connolly from Beckenham and Copers Cope, was at COP26 through his work with a business-climate NGO. He notes: 

“in working out how best to respond to the climate crisis, and its impacts, it is so important that businesses do what they can to help transform our national and local economies, in line with limiting global temperature rise to no higher than 1.5ºC.” 

What next?

The next COP will take place in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt in 2022. Parties are being asked to come to COP in 2022 with better, more ambitious targets and ambitions to address the climate emergency. 

Bromley Liberal Democrats have been campaigning on the measurement and improvement of air quality, and if elected, their councillors would work towards the development of a better infrastructure for charging points for electric vehicles in the Borough. 

Want to read more about Bromley Liberal Democrats’ campaigns including on the environment? Please see here: https://www.bromleylibdems.org.uk/campaigns

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