What does COP26 stand for?

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Approximately 30,000 delegates will attend the COP26 conference next week, alongside leaders from some of the world’s richest nations. Those delegates represent businesses, NGOs, faith groups and much more. Their conversations over the next two weeks could determine the future of the planet.

What does COP26 stand for?

COP26 is the latest addition to the series of United Nations Climate Change Conferences.

They come at the behest of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an organisation with hundreds of constituent parties.

The UN refers to a formal meeting of its UNFCCC parties as a Conference of the Parties (COP).

The COP in 2021 is the 26th such meeting, earning it the COP26 designation.

These congregations have taken place every year, with the first one in 1995.

In the mid-1990s, they aimed to negotiate the Kyoto Protocol and create legally-binding obligations designed to reduce greenhouse gases.

Modern COP negotiations have also negotiated other vital treaties such as the Paris Agreement, and this year’s meeting has four clear aims.

Securing global net-zero by mid-century

COP26 will ask attending countries to come up with “ambitious” emissions reductions by 2030.

Specifically, delegates should show how they intend to phase out coal usage, reduce deforestation, accelerate the switch to electric vehicles and encourage renewable investment.

The proposals will also have to keep the aim of reducing global temperatures within 1.5C in sight.

Protecting communities and natural habitats

The UN states climate change has already changed environments, causing “devastating effects” on communities and ecosystems.

Delegates will need to show their commitment to mitigating this harm and protecting areas under their care.

In action, this would mean protecting and restoring local ecosystems, while also building infrastructure such as defences that will protect communities from climate disasters.

Mobilising finance

COP26 attendees will need to put their money where their mouths are.

The UN has set specific spending targets to realise its goals, asking developed nations to mobilise “at least” $100billion in “climate finance”.

The organisation has also called on international financial institutions to work towards “unleashing the trillions in private and public sector finance required to secure global net-zero”.

Working together

The central premise of the negotiations is that countries can commit to these goals by working together.

As such, delegates will work on collaborative frameworks during the meeting.

These include finalising the Paris Rulebook – the rules behind the Paris Climate Agreement – and several others that promote “collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society”.

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