Why was COP26 especially important?
A Conference of the Parties (participating nations) to the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change, UNFCCC, or COP for short, is held in a different country every year. COP26, held in Glasgow in 2021, was especially important because it was the occasion for upgrading and strengthening the commitments made at COP21, in Paris, six years earlier. In the Paris Agreement, the participating nations offered their own Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to limiting global carbon emissions. This was a fairly revolutionary step, after the failure of the earlier Kyoto Treaty, which attempted to determine the contribution each country should make, in a uniform way. Asking each nation to decide for itself might seem hopelessly naive, but there were reasons to believe it just might work. The principal organiser, Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica, had worked very hard convincing the countries to up their NDCs, and it was hoped that countries would encourage one another in a virtuous circle.
A crucial part of the Paris Agreement was that after five years -- in other words, at COP26 (delayed by a year because of the Covid pandemic) -- the NDCs would be strengthened and improved in the light of increasing knowledge and understanding of climate science, and of technological progress. So, were they? And are they now strong enough to prevent a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Centigrade? In the Paris Agreement, the signatory nations agreed to this goal, and, indeed, to keeping the temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees C if at all possible. The links below take you to different assessments of its success.
The Climate Emergency page on the website of Leamington-based Action 21, one of our partner organisations, has a clear and down-to-earth analysis from Juliet Nickels, and some helpful infographics.
What is in the Glasgow Climate Pact?, from Climate Home News.
Glasgow's 2030 Credibility Gap, from the authoritative website Climate Action Tracker
The world has made more progress on climate change than you might think, by Myles Allen, professor of Geosystems Science at the University of Oxford. This article is from the online magazine The Conversation. The COP26 page at The Conversation has links to this and a collection of other articles.
Boris Johnson's HyCOPrisy, from Greenpeace