Explainer: What COP26 seeks to achieve

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, is the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference. It is scheduled to be held in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom, between October 31 and November 12, 2021, under the co-presidency of the United Kingdom and Italy.

The conference is the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the third meeting of the parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA3).

This conference is the first time that parties are expected to commit to enhanced ambition since the Paris Agreement of 2015. Parties are required to carry out every five years programmes as outlined in the Paris Agreement. The event was originally scheduled to be held in November 2020 at the same venue, but postponed for 12 months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the United Nations, the main objectives of COP 26 include:

Net Zero

Countries are being asked to come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach.

To deliver on these stretching targets, countries will need to accelerate the phase-out of coal, curtail deforestation, speed up the switch to electric vehicles and encourage investment in renewables.


Another objective is to adapt to protect communities and natural habitats. Scientists say the climate is already changing and it will continue to change even as humans reduce emissions, with devastating effects.

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At COP26, terms will be negotiated on how the world can work together to enable and encourage countries affected by climate change to protect and restore ecosystems and build defences, warning systems and resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and even lives.

Mobilise finance

In order to deliver on the first two goals, developed countries must make good on their promise to mobilise at least $100 billion in climate finance per year by 2020, and the conference would provide an opportunity to interrogate how this will be done.

The UN says that international financial institutions must play their part and rich countries need to work towards unleashing the trillions in private and public sector finance required to secure global net zero.

Work together to deliver

COP26 will provide humanity the opportunity to try to work together in order to rise to the challenges of the climate crisis.

To achieve this, at COP26 countries must finalise the Paris Rulebook (the detailed rules that make the Paris Agreement operational) and accelerate action to tackle the climate crisis through collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society.

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