The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties in Glasgow between 31 October and 12 November. The UK and Italy hold joint presidency of COP 26.
At the summit in Glasgow, they will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The reversal of biodiversity loss is also at the heart of their multilateral agenda.
A statement on UKCOP26.org reads: “As part of this UK-Italy Presidency Partnership year, we agree on the need to build back better following the impact of COVID-19.
“We will work with our international partners, and through our Presidencies, in support of a green and resilient recovery that promotes sustainable growth and jobs and delivers for those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
“We are calling on all countries to submit ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions and set out long term strategies to net zero emissions well in advance of COP26.
“We will leverage our G7 and G20 Presidencies to drive forward the COP26 campaigns and help build momentum towards a successful COP26 outcome.”
That includes working with international partners to advance action for the four COP26 goals:
- a step change in commitments to emissions reduction
- strengthening adaptation to climate change impacts
- getting finance flowing for climate action
- enhancing international collaboration, including for the COP26 campaigns on energy transition, clean road transport and nature
What needs to be achieved at COP 26?
Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach. Countries are being asked to come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets (NDCs) that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century. To deliver on these stretching targets, countries will need to accelerate the phase-out of coal, encourage investment in renewables, curtail deforestation and speed up the switch to electric vehicles.
Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats. The climate is already changing and it will continue to change even as emissions are reduced, with devastating effects. At COP26 we need to work together to enable and encourage countries affected by climate change to protect and restore ecosystems, build defences, put warning systems in place and make infrastructure and agriculture more resilient to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and lives.
Mobilise finance. To realise our first two goals, developed countries must deliver on their promise to raise at least $100bn in climate finance per year. International financial institutions must play their part and we need to work towards unleashing the trillions in private and public sector finance required to secure global net zero.
Work together to deliver. We can only rise to the challenges of climate change by working together. At COP26 we must finalise the Paris Rulebook (the rules needed to implement the Paris Agreement). And, we have to turn our ambitions into action by accelerating collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society to deliver on our climate goals faster.
The world is currently not on track to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees
The targets announced in Paris would result in warming well above 3 degrees by 2100 compared to pre-industrial levels. If we continue as we are, temperatures will carry on rising, bringing even more catastrophic flooding, bush fires, extreme weather and destruction of species.
We have made progress in recent months to bend the temperature curve closer to 2 degrees; but the science shows that much more must be done to keep 1.5 degrees in reach.
The world needs to halve emissions over the next decade and reach net zero carbon emissions by the middle of the century if we are to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees.
As part of the Paris Agreement, every country agreed to communicate or update their emissions reduction targets – their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) – every five years to reflect their highest possible ambition and a progression over time.
These targets set out how far countries plan to reduce emissions across their entire economy and/or in specific sectors. 2020 marked the first of these five year cycles.
This means that countries are expected to update their 2030 targets before the Glasgow summit. We are calling on all countries to update them so that they are in line with holding temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.
It is especially important that developed countries and the largest emitters take the lead. While targets are important, they must translate into action, fast. Which is why developed countries must rapidly phase out coal power, and all countries should commit to not opening or financing any new coal-fired power stations across the world.
At the same time, we must work together to provide developing countries with better support to deliver clean energy to their citizens. Forests play a vital role in removing carbon from the air. Protecting them is critical if we are going to meet our climate goals, and right now they are still being lost at the rate of a football pitch every few seconds.
We are encouraging countries to work together to reform the global trade in agricultural commodities (like beef, soy and palm oil) so that sustainable production is rewarded, helping farmers to make a better living while forests are protected.
And finally, we need to clean up our air and reduce carbon emissions by switching to driving zero emission cars, vans and trucks. The UK will end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. Countries with major car markets should follow our lead. If we send a strong signal to the industry, investment will shift more quickly to new, clean technologies, and all countries will be able to enjoy the benefits sooner.
We are making progress
Around 70% of the world’s economy is now committed to reaching net zero emissions, up from 30% when the UK took over as incoming COP Presidency.
More than 80 countries have formally updated their NDCs, and all G7 countries have announced new NDC targets that put them on the path to net zero emissions by 2050.
Accounting for around half the global economy, all the countries that make up the G7 have updated their 2030 targets to put them on a pathway to net zero by 2050.
Solar and wind are now cheaper than new coal and gas power plants in two thirds of countries of the world.
Briefing documents on COP26 can be read in full on the website at https://ukcop26.org