COP26 GOALS

Written by Marko Milutinović, Communications Officer, Young European Leadership

COP26 is the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference. It is scheduled to take place from 31st of October to 12th of November at the Scottish Event Campus in Glasgow. This is one of the most important conferences in recent decades, given the seriousness of the situation we find ourselves in regarding climate change.

Earlier this year, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the landmark report outlining that human activity is changing the climate in unprecedented and sometimes even irreversible ways. Furthermore, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called this report a “code red for humanity”. The key takeaways from this report are:

  1. The past five years have been the hottest on the record since 1850
  2. Human influence has been the main driver of the global retreat of glaciers since the 1990s
  3. Hot extremes have certainly become more frequent since the 1950s
  4. The rise of the sea levels has nearly tripled compared to the period between 1901 and 1971

It is clear that we need immediate and effective action organised by all of the world’s countries if we want to have a fighting chance of stopping this deadly process. This is why COP26 is so important, and it is the unique opportunity for the world leaders to move from pledges to actual implementation of much-needed changes. It is also important to note that a handful of countries cannot solve climate change. Everyone needs to be on board and work together to succeed in what is shaping to be the greatest battle our generation is going to face.

WHAT ARE THE GOALS OF COP26

COP26 has four main goals that need to be achieved at the Conference. That will be the foundation upon which we will create a happier, healthier, and greener future for all living beings inhabiting this beautiful planet. The goals in question are the following:

SECURE GLOBAL NET ZERO BY MID-CENTURY AND KEEP 1.5 DEGREES WITHIN REACH

If we continue going down the path we are currently on, the temperatures will only keep rising and rising. This would mean that we would have more and more floods, wildfires, extreme weather, and species extinction. All of which we have witnessed with our own eyes in recent times. 

There is a chance to put a stop to this, but that would entail changing the way we behave in our everyday lives. This means reducing emissions during the next decade and reaching net zero carbon emissions by the middle of the century. We need to work hard on phasing out coal from mass use and move towards renewable energy. 

Moreover, we must put a stop to deforestation. Forests act as filters that remove carbon from the atmosphere. They are an invaluable tool for us, and we need to ensure that they are protected and not cut down. By destroying the forests, we are reducing our chances of actually succeeding in stopping climate change.

Finally, we must work towards having healthier air. Air pollution is one of the biggest threats to our health, and the situation around the world is precarious. One sure way to ensure that we breathe in clean air is to amp the use of zero emissions vehicles. We need to ensure that more and more cities give their citizens a sustainable options regarding daily commutes either by helping them transition to electric vehicles or redesigning their cities to accommodate walking or cycling to their destinations.

ADAPT TO PROTECT COMMUNITIES AND NATURAL HABITATS

The most vulnerable groups of people are at the highest risk of being exposed to the negative consequences of climate change. Because of this, the international community must come together and work on providing support to people around the globe who find themselves in this precarious position. The focus must be on investing heavily in early warning systems, necessary defences against floods, and building resilient infrastructure and agriculture. The goal is to prevent the loss of life, as well as the reduction in livelihoods and natural habitats.

Habitats are an important aspect and a necessary tool that can be used for the reduction of the adverse effects of climate change. By protecting and restoring the natural habitats, we would have natural defences against storms and floods while at the same time allowing ecosystems to thrive and give their contribution to sustainable farming, which in turn supports millions of people worldwide.

MOBILISE FINANCES

The finances are the cornerstone of successfully solving climate change. Countries will have to improve every aspect of the lives of their citizens, and for that, they will need to mobilise all forms of finances. Public finances will be employed to develop infrastructure, which is essential for transitioning towards a greener and climate-resilient economy. On the other hand, private finances are necessary to fund new technologies and innovations. 

One aspect that needs to be highlighted is the developing countries. They especially need to be supported, because as I stated previously, climate change will be solved only if every government in the world implements changes. However, it is impossible to expect that the countries fighting to feed their citizens can create the same changes as the developed countries. That is why the developed countries will need to pitch in and help out the developing countries.

It is also necessary to invest trillions in private financing to give us a fighting chance of achieving net zero by the middle of this century. In order to achieve this, whenever a financial decision is being made, it will have to take climate into consideration. This goes for both the private investment decisions, as well as the international financial institutions. Furthermore, central banks and financial regulators need to ensure that our economic systems are ready for the transition towards the net zero goal. 

WORK TOGETHER TO DELIVER

The formal responsibility of all of the parties at COP26 is to reach an agreement. This entails working together on successfully ending the negotiation process. The focal point of these negotiations will be finalising the Paris Rulebook (these are the detailed rules that make the Paris Agreement operational). Solutions must be found so that carbon markets will successfully enable greater ambition in mitigation and adaptation of actions. It is essential to reach an agreement that will keep the governments of the countries around the globe on course to keep the goal of 1.5 degrees within our reach.

It is also important to remember that the UN negotiations are consensus based. This means that countries need to work well and truly together during the Conference and that everyone needs to feel that they had the opportunity of having their voices heard. Furthermore, even if the negotiations are a success, countries need to turn that agreement into action and implement policies and decisions that will make a difference.

YEL AT COP26

We, as the Young European Leadership, will be sending a delegation to the COP26. This will mean that you will have the opportunity to watch the live coverage from our delegates that will be there for both weeks of the Conference. The focus will be on the policies necessary to achieve the goals of COP26 and the atmosphere from the venue. You can follow us on the following social media platforms:

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/youngeuropeanleadership/ 

Twitter – https://twitter.com/YELtweets/ 

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/YoungEuropeanLeadership/ 

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/company/young-european-leadership 

Youtube – https://www.youtube.com/user/yelvideos 

Sources

  1. https://ukcop26.org
  2. https://ukcop26.org/cop26-goals/
  3. https://ukcop26.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/COP26-Explained.pdf
  4. https://www.ipcc.ch
  5. https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/
  6. https://unric.org/en/guterres-the-ipcc-report-is-a-code-red-for-humanity/
  7. https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-58130705

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