October 31st saw the arrival of something mysterious, and potentially very scary for humanity… I’m talking, of course, about COP26. (Oh, and it was also Halloween!) Here’s what you need to know about this big global climate meeting.
From October 31 through November 12, the 197 countries who are party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will be meeting for the twenty-sixth “conference of the parties” (CoP), in Glasgow this year. Some of these COPs have been milestones in fighting the climate crisis:
- COP1, 1995, Berlin, Germany: the first COP organized after the UNFCCC was launched at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992
- COP3, 1997, Kyoto, Japan: The Kyoto Protocol, humanity’s first attempt at organizing around climate change, was adopted and ratified by a bunch of countries
- COP6, 2001, Bonn, Germany: The Clean Development Mechanism, climate financing for developing countries, and other elements of modern climate agreements were agreed upon
- COP15, 2009, Copenhagen, Denmark: An agreement was expected at President Obama’s first COP, but negotiations fell short; still, a political accord was reached among 25 developed countries, including the US and China, that would set the stage for the Paris Accord
- COP21, 2015, Paris, France: The Paris Accord was agreed upon and signed
That sets the stage for this year’s COP26 conference (if you’re doing the math, COP26 was slated for 2020 but postponed due to the global pandemic). COP26 is an important one, because since it’s five years out from the Paris Accord, nations have to “ratchet” up their national contributions to the climate crisis. If every country does what they pledged to do in Paris, we’d still see a 1.9˚ C to 3.0˚ C temperature rise, which means all countries must ratchet up their climate ambitions to stay under 2.0˚ C.
Hopefully that gives you enough to talk about around the dinner table! If you’d like to learn more, here are some additional places to look:
- I wrote a series of blog posts on the history of the COPs, on why COP21 was different, on my impressions attending COP21, and on the contents of the Paris Accord itself.
- If you’d prefer that in video format, I recorded a 45-minute talk for my company, Eleven Radius, where I briefed our member circular fashion brands on similar topics as my blog posts. I’ve made it public here: https://youtu.be/ZYrSpopY38w
- Read a more mainstream accounting of COP26 and its history in WaPo: https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2021/10/06/cop26-glasgow-un-climate-talks/
- Or check out a more climate-dedicated group that I watch, the Climate Action Tracker (my source for the 1.9-3.0˚ C rise estimates): https://climateactiontracker.org/
We’ll find out soon if the policymakers have achieved progress on the climate crisis, which is becoming more acute each year (underscored by the release of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report this summer, which said—cliffs notes version—”It’s bad, real bad yo”). Greta is unconvinced, but I still have hope. The next milestone to look for is the global stocktake of emissions, slated for 2023. Let’s hope we’re all having a more hopeful conversation by then.
[image courtesy of Asheen Phansey]