What is the COP26 Event?
The COP, or Conference of the Parties, is the annual UN climate change conference. COP26 will be the 26th summit of the member states that signed the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The UNFCCC seeks for the stabilization of human-induced greenhouse gases in the atmosphere so as to prevent dangerous interference with the earth’s climate system. The UK, as host and president of COP26, is seeking essential commitments from all the world’s leading economies to slash emissions in the next 10 years, which will determine whether the world meets the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Where will COP26 be held?
The UK Government will host COP 26 alongside Italy, which will take place in Glasgow from 1-12 November 2021. This is the first time the UK hosts the conference, which was originally scheduled for November 2020 but postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The UK is keen to hold the COP26 summit as an in-person event, though in light of the on-going worldwide effects of COVID-19, other options are under consideration. Before the coronavirus outbreak, the event was expected to bring about 30,000 people to Glasgow, but some aspects may have to be scaled down.
Who will be attending?
Formal events will take place in the ‘blue zone’ where climate experts, campaigners, policy makers, faith groups and world leaders will debate how to make progress on climate change.
Thousands of people are expected to attend side events in the ‘green zone’, a citizen meeting space where NGOs, organisations and national representatives will engage with each other and the general public on aspects of environmental awareness, social equality and reflect on the proceedings of the COP.
What will be discussed?
COP26 is critical because it’s the first time that countries must set out more ambitious goals for ending their contribution to climate change under the Paris Agreement.
In 2020, countries were asked to submit their long-term proposals, so ambition to address the global climate emergency will be high on the agenda. COP26 will also have to finish the work that COP25 in Madrid was unable to conclude – setting out the rules for a carbon market between countries.
The same human activities that are destabilizing the Earth’s climate also contribute directly to poor health. Between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year, from climate-sensitive diseases like malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress. The main driver of climate change, which is fossil fuel combustion, contributes about 2/3 of human exposure to outdoor air pollution, causing more than 4 million deaths a year.
The BreatheLife2030 campaign mobilizes cities and individuals to take action on air pollution to protect our health and the planet. A rapid global transition to clean energy would not only meet the Paris climate agreement goal of keeping warming below 2°C, but it would also improve air quality to such an extent that the resulting health gains would repay the cost of the investment twice over.
How to Get Involved?
For those who do not have observer status to attend the COP can follow events online via:
- Webcast and press materials are available here.
- Recordings of side events are published here.
- UNFCCC Climate Action Studio on Youtube.
And use BreatheLife resources to lobby your local council or government to sign up to the campaign and commit to clean air.
In the run-up to COP26, government officials can get their cities, regions or countries to join the BreatheLife campaign and commit to meeting WHO air quality guidelines – linking air pollution, climate change and health.
Health has been chosen as a COP26 science priority area. Find out more about the COP26 Health Programme.
In addition, WHO is hosting a space for a Health Pavilion inside the official negotiating space (Blue zone) and is now calling for side events to be held in the Health Pavilion: https://www.who.int/news-room/articles-detail/call-for-side-events-cop26-health-pavilion
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