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COP26 for climate change: what is it and why does it matter?

You want to live a more sustainable life, we know that.

You want a beautiful earth, full of diverse plants and wildlife for future generations to enjoy. We want that too, which is why we created this brand in the first place. But we know that sustainable living is only one part of the puzzle when it comes to the biggest threat to our earth: climate change. 

While we’re here to help make your road to sustainable living easier - whether you’re a fully fledged eco warrior, a casual activist, or a ‘when I remember’ recycler - the pressure for the big changes, the ones that will have the most profound effect on the future of our planet, fall into the hands of our governments. 

We know that you’re a conscious consumer doing your bit to help combat the rising temperatures our earth is facing (that’s why you’re here!). And as parents, we recognise that it’s vital that change happens fast, if we want this earth to be here for our younger ones to enjoy. It’s our duty to protect it. 

But are the leaders doing enough to support us? Are they actively working towards lowering emissions and reducing the strain on our environment?

Later this year we’ll find out, as the world leaders (and national treasure David Attenborough!) come together for a global conference: COP26.

What is COP26?

In short, COP26 is the United Nations Annual Climate Change Conference, and this November, it’s hosted by the UK in Glasgow. 

COP stands for Conference Of the Parties. ‘Parties’ being those that signed up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the 26 signifying that this is the 26th edition of the conference. 

It’s all about uniting the world for climate change, bringing together world leaders to discuss and agree on the necessary steps needed to achieve the goals set out in The Paris Agreement - like reaching net zero emissions by 2050. 

Okay, so what is actually happening at COP26?

Let’s break it down. 

The United Nations climate change conferences are some of the largest international meetings in the world. The event will bring together the governments from every country in the world, plus representatives from civil society and global news press, to negotiate plans to accelerate action against climate change.

COP26 is the first meeting where all countries will have to bring evidence and plans to prove that they’re doing their bit to deliver on The Paris Agreement to reduce their emissions, in order to create a greener environment for everyone - so it’s kind of a big deal.

President-Designate of COP26, Alok Sharma, said: “This year’s climate summit COP26 will be the world’s best chance of building a cleaner, greener future.”.

Remember The Paris Agreement?

It saw all world leaders from almost every country enter into a legally binding commitment, at COP21 in 2015, to cut emissions to limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees. 

Each agreeing country made their own commitments and path to do so, with the UK pledging to cut emissions 68% by 2030.

However, as it stands, The Paris Agreement isn’t working. We’re not on track just yet, but experts say that the targets are still within reach. Just! It’s stressful, but if those in power step up, it’s doable.

It’s not all gloom and doom for us though, as COP26 Explained says that “the UK has a lot to be proud of when it comes to acting on climate change… Our economy grew by 78% and our emissions decreased by 44% [between 1990 and 2019], the fastest decline in the G7.”. So there is hope, but countries (including us) need to work harder to keep their promises. 

What are they aiming to achieve with COP26?

To get back on track to achieve the goal of reaching net zero by 2050, drastic improvements need to be made. If we carry on as we are, temperatures will continue to rise, surpassing the 1.5 degree rise limit to a catastrophic 3 degrees or more. 

It may not seem like much, but a rise of just one degree can have a devastating impact on the earth and its delicately balanced climate-system, causing water levels to rise, dramatic changes in weather and wildlife not being able to adapt fast enough leading to extinctions. 

We need to take action, and now. During COP26, specific goals will be outlined and (hopefully) agreed upon by all world leaders. They’re split into 4 sections:

  1. Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach by rapidly phasing out coal power, encouraging investment in renewables (no opening or financing of any new coal-fired power stations), protect our forests from deforestation (especially from agricultural practices), and accelerate the switch to electric vehicles.
  1. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats by protecting and restoring wildlife homes and ecosystems, and building more resistant infrastructure.
  1. Mobilise finance by ensuring developed countries play their part in financing the projects, and bear more of the financial burden compared to developing countries that are experiencing the effect of climate change first hand. 
  1. Work together to deliver a global promise. Simply put, everyone across the globe needs to go all in if this is to be achieved, and COP26 aims to enforce this message.

How can you help? 

It may seem that the entire world hangs on the shoulders of our leaders. And in many ways, it does. But there are ways that we the public can get involved too.

During COP26 (1st-12th November), you can attend as a representative of an observer organisation, or set up your own event, fundraising, exhibition, performance… during the two week programme. If that sounds like your jam and you’re itching to get down there, visit this page. 

Here at Eco Ness, we’re doing our best in all areas to care for our brilliant planet the best we can, with eco-friendly products and a sustainable-first approach to business. We’re always looking for new ways to reduce our emissions and the waste we produce, as climate change continues to prove its existence faster than the world can cope. 

We know you want to help, and you can. By continuing to make eco-conscious choices and taking small steps each day. Together, on a global scale, small actions make a BIG difference.

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