UN Summit Addressing Climate Change

Ethel Howley, SSND

Uniting the whole world to tackle climate change is the purpose for the COP 26 Summit being held in Glasgow, October 31- November 12, 2021. The UK, as the host of this 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties, is committed to working with all countries and joining forces with civil society, corporations and people on the front line of climate change to inspire action ahead of COP 26.

COP stands for Conference of the Parties who are the signatories of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1994. The meeting in Glasgow will be the 26th meeting of these parties, which is why it is called COP 26. 

Activity at the conference will take place in two different zones – the Blue Zone and the Green Zone. The Blue Zone is for people registered with the United Nations and tasked with coordinating the global response to the threat of climate change.  Some of these people are part of their national delegation, work for the UN and related organizations and agencies, media, or non-profit observer organizations. Delegates from countries meet together to clarify their position and interests with the aim of reaching agreement or overcoming a negotiating deadlock. The Green Zone is for the general public to attend a range of workshops, presentations, demonstrations of technology and musical performances.

Tree of ChangeThe 1994 agreement, known as The Paris Agreement, set out ambitious goals on adaptation and finance recognizing that countries already needed financial and technical support. Every country, no matter how big or small, signed up to cut carbon emissions in order to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees and ideally to 1.5 degrees above preindustrial levels. It was left to each country to determine how it would get there. 

Reducing carbon emissions and global warming is important because of the severe impacts they have on people and nature.  Severe heat leads to health problems and heat-related deaths. At the same time, coral reefs are destroyed and artic sea ice melts causing devastation of wild life and communities, along with risks to food and water shortages. 

Possible goals and outcomes for COP 26 would be: 

For countries to agree 
•    on securing global zero annual carbon emissions by mid-century, 
•    on adapting a way to protect communities and natural habitats, 
•    to work together to meet these challenges, and for international financial institutions to mobilize finances for developing countries.