What is COP26, when does it take place and what does COP stand for?

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An acrobat performs as she hangs under a heliosphere during the start of the Earth Spectacular celebration parade in Wakefield (PA)
An acrobat performs as she hangs under a heliosphere during the start of the Earth Spectacular celebration parade in Wakefield (PA)

The UK is set to host the COP26, bringing together more than 190 world leaders to discuss climate change.

Alok Sharma, appointed full-time president, is leading the government’s efforts ahead of the 2021 climate change summit.

The cabinet minister said he has held “constructive discussions” with China in recent days ahead of the event.

But what exactly is the COP26 and what does it hope to achieve?

What is COP26 and what does COP stand for?

Every year, the United Nations holds a global climate change conference known as a COP which stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’.

This year marks the 26th anniversary, giving it the name COP26 with the UK as its president.

Among the largest international meetings in the world, the summit is regarded by many to be the world’s last best chance to get runaway climate change under control.

It is seen as a critical opportunity to win more ambitious country-to-country commitments on achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and keeping the global average temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius this century.

The UK is working with every nation to reach agreement on how to tackle climate change in the run up.

When and where is COP26?

The COP26 will take place in November at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow.

It is part of the C40 Cities network, a group of nearly 100 major cities worldwide working for faster action on climate change.

Talks will run for 12 days from November 1 to November 12.

Who is going to COP26?

More than 190 world leaders are expected to attend the Glasgow summit along with tens of thousands of negotiators, government representatives, citizens and businesses.

The Queen will be among attendees at the COP26, organisers confirmed last month.

Greta Thunberg is the latest to add her name to the list, joining others including Pope Francis, US President Joe Biden, presidential envoy for climate John Kerry, and Sir David Attenborough.

The natural historian also has a role at the conference, as COP26 People’s Advocate in a bid to convince world leaders climate change is a real threat.

What do they hope to achieve?

The COP26 summit brings parties together to speed up action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Its aims are:

  • To secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach

  • Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats

  • Mobilise finance, with developed countries making good on their promise of at least $100 billion in climate finance per year by 2020

  • Finalising the Paris Rulebook, that make the Paris Agreement work, and accelerating action to tackle the climate crisis through collaboration between governments, businesses and society

Speaking before the summit, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Securing a brighter future for our children and future generations requires countries to take urgent action at home and abroad to turn the tide on climate change.

“It is with ambition, courage and collaboration as we approach the crucial COP26 summit in the UK that we can seize this moment together, so we can recover cleaner, rebuild greener and restore our planet.”

What is the UK doing about climate change?

The UK is said to be leading the way with climate change.

The country was the first to pledge to reduce carbon emissions by 78 per cent by 2035, with the aim of phasing out coal power completely by 2024.

New petrol and diesel vehicles will no longer be sold by 2030 and legally binding targets will be introduced to restore nature and radical reforms to agricultural subsidies.

A Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution has been set out by Mr Johnson which aims to help the UK reach its climate commitments.

At the same time, it should create thousands of highly skilled jobs with many more Britons earning a living from clean green jobs.

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