The Conference of the Parties (COP) is a global climate summit which brings together all states that are parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The COP forms the supreme decision-making body responsible for monitoring and improving the implementation of the UNFCCC.
The parties are meeting for the 26th time this year, hence COP26.
COP26 will be held in Glasgow from 1-12 November 2021, as the COP26 Presidency is assumed by the UK (in partnership with Italy). World leaders, negotiators and business representatives will come together in Glasgow to discuss strategies to combat climate change. Conventionally, COPs have been held annually since 1995, with the objective of stabilising the emission of greenhouse gases and minimising interference with the climate system through global dialogue and effort.
As Co-President of COP26 and host country, the UK will play a critical role, facilitating negotiations and consulting on the issues raised both in the lead-up to and during the conference. COP26 was originally scheduled to take place in November 2020 but was delayed by one year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic, whilst temporarily reducing global emissions, has topped government agendas for the past year, slowing implementation of effective action against climate change around the globe by diverting legislative attention. However, COP26 is likely to bring climate change back to the forefront of legislative agendas, with key proposed action areas for COP26 including:
- reducing deforestation;
- accelerating the energy transition;
- incentivising sustainable agriculture; and
- raising £100 billion of climate finance each year.
COP26 is also critical due to its timing – originally scheduled 5 years after the Paris Agreement, there will be increased pressure to take action where previous COPs have fallen short. While the Paris Agreement has already been a driver for change, COP26 will seek to accelerate meaningful action and effective reporting.