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What is COP26 and how will it affect the future of climate change?

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What event could bring together Prince Charles, President Biden and Greta Thunberg? The climate change conference known as COP26, being held in Glasgow, Scotland. The U.N. climate summit, which will take place this November, is widely regarded as the planet’s last best chance at keeping global warming below the levels that scientists warn will have catastrophic consequences for life on earth. Yahoo News explains everything you need to know about COP26 before the proceedings kick off.

Video transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

EVE HARTLEY: What sort of event could bring together President Biden, Prince Charles, and Greta Thunberg? Well, it's a climate change conference happening in Glasgow, Scotland called COP26. Here's everything you need to know about it.

Firstly, let's tackle the name. The event is an annual meeting held by the United Nations that brings together officials from around the world to discuss climate issues. In UN terms, the word COP refers to a conference of the parties while the number 26 reflects the amount of events that they've held previously.

So why does it matter? COP26 is widely regarded as the planet's last best chance at keeping global warming below levels scientists warn will have catastrophic consequences for life on Earth. Countries will enter negotiations to try and agree on policies that ensure warming is kept at a minimum. The key target, which has already been agreed to under the Paris Climate Agreement, is to keep average global temperature rise from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius or about 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit. Here's the president of COP26 Alok Sharma.

ALOK SHARMA: The world must deliver an outcome which keeps 1.5 degrees in reach. Working with partners around the world, we have made progress. But on each of them, critically, we have further to go. And leaders must deliver.

EVE HARTLEY: So what will the role of the US be? After former President Trump announced his withdrawal from the Paris Agreement in 2017--

DONALD TRUMP: I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.

EVE HARTLEY: --President Biden has attempted to restore America's stature as a leader on climate change, rejoining the Paris Accords and setting ambitious pledges for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

- President Biden announced a new pledge for the US to cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and to reach zero emissions by 2050.

EVE HARTLEY: A US delegation including Biden himself and John Kerry, the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, will be attending COP26. The stakes of the conference are very real. If world leaders fail to reach agreement, not only will the types of severe storms, wildfires, and droughts we've seen in recent years worsen, the globe as we know it will forever change.

Over the last century, the sea level has already risen by about one foot. And if global temperatures continue to rise at their current rate, climate scientists predict the seas will continue to rise anywhere from 10 to 30 feet by the year 2100, leaving portions of coastal cities like Boston, New York, and Miami underwater. And that's why COP26 is so important. The event, which takes place in November, is crucial for the future of your world.

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