COP26: what you need to know.
This weekend, on the 31st Oct, COP26 will begin in Glasgow. While there are many passing references to it in the media, it’s not always easy to find the context about how it relates to us as individuals or to the work of the environmental charities (like SOS) we support.
Here are some key points to keep in mind as the COP begins this weekend.
What is a COP?
The UN has been holding global climate summits, called ‘Conference of the Parties’, or COP, for almost thirty years. These summits bring together almost every country on the planet to try to reach agreements on tackling climate change.
Why is COP26 important?
Many experts working to tackle the devastating effects of climate change feel that COP26 is particularly important. This is because it has now been six years since the Paris Agreement, which was made in 2015 at COP21. This means it is time for countries to update their commitments to reducing emissions, adapting to the impacts of climate change and making money available to pay for these aims.
What did the Paris Agreement mean for countries?
The Paris Agreement was an important moment, as every country at COP21 agreed to work together to keep global warming below 2 degrees and to aim for 1.5 degrees. Limiting global warming is vital because every degree (or even every fraction of a degree) of global warming results in more loss of life for people and wildlife.
Unfortunately, the commitments made in the Paris Agreement were not enough to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. This makes the work to address global warming for the rest of this decade (from now until 2030) vital.
What do we need countries to commit to at COP26?
Put simply, countries – particularly wealthy countries like the UK and USA – need to commit to do way more to reduce their emissions and support the countries and people who will continue to be most affected by the damage (including extreme weather events, drought and food insecurity) wrought by a rapidly changing climate. There are some detailed descriptions of what leaders should be calling for here, along with ways we can help to put pressure on the right people.
How is COP26 relevant to SOS?
All the work we currently do – and all our long-term aims – are affected by climate change. Climate change causes drastic changes to weather patterns, which can increase the risk of forest fires. It makes it harder, or even impossible, for many of the diverse species in the rainforest to survive. This can cause ecosystem collapse, which would leave orangutans in a dangerous position. It also has an impact on global politics, economics and social justice, all of which cannot be separated from our work to protect orangutans and their habitat.
We will be watching developments at COP26 closely, and we will, of course, keep you updated as well.