So what is COP 26? First off COP stands for Conference of the Parties. This year’s meeting in Glasgow will be the 26th. Hence the title COP26. Countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992 will attend. The attending worldwide nations intention is to agree what they’re going to do hold back climate change. It was pushed back from 2020 because of Covid-19 making the discussions even a higher priority. The UK are hosts. This article will be the first of several. It focuses on explaining what COP is about. Subsequent articles will explore a little more about some of the aspects of climate change that may interest many of us.
Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)
NDCs are voluntary offers by countries to cut their own emissions. Back in December 2020 Boris Johnson convened a virtual summit where leaders were be asked to put forward their NDCs for tackling climate change. Take the link to find out more about the UK’s own NDC. As a pledge focusing up to 2030, it is no guarantee to being achieved without without big impacts on our economy. It will need commitment from the government, industry and us.
Perhaps the most worrying aspect is that without serious buy in from whatever government is in charge, it may not be achieved. As a consequence, it could result in some rather future election manifesto items that are not attractive to all. Will the political parties at the time have the responsibility to face up to the long term?
Similarly our action alone without that of big business will not be enough. There needs to be a big push to include sustainability into corporate planning. Some corporations are taking this seriously. Hopefully more will see the long-term benefit to do so too. Clearly there is a cost to that. We will provide more detail on this in a later post.
NDCs will be a major topic of discussion at COP26.
What is net zero?
We hear this phrase mentioned many times by politicians, business and green campaigners. Yet what does net zero actually mean? Scientific evidence illustrates that the world is over-heating. Really, it’s something that started way back with the advent of the industrial revolution. Whatever the plant’s natural temperature changes are doing, we have pushed it in a clear direction. The increase is largely due to carbon dioxide emissions and other gases as a result burning fossil fuels.
Another gas adversely impacting climate is methane. Much of this comes from farming. However a lot is also as a result of landfill used for waste. Hence the importance of recycling. Although we can help with that to a degree, manufacturers need to tackle this at source in their processes more than it is now. We are starting to see that to happen. Even a glance at shop shelves, some companies such as Johnson and Johnson and Fair Trade Teas are starting to do their bit.
Sadly, scientists warn it just won’t be possible to get emissions to zero by the UK’s by 2050. So instead, the government is aiming for something called net zero. That means the emissions that clean technology produces in 2050 will either be buried using the technology of carbon capture and storage, or soaked up by plants and soils. Want to know more how these technologies will work? We will follow up on that soon.