2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference
|Date||1 – 12 November 2021|
|Location||Glasgow, Scotland, UK|
|Organized by||United Kingdom and Italy|
|Participants||UNFCCC member countries|
|Previous event||Madrid 2019|
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 the city of Glasgow from 1 to 12 November 2021 under the presidency of the United Kingdom. The conference is set to incorporate the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the 16th meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP16), 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 COP21. Parties are required to carry out every five years, as outlined in the Paris Agreement, a process colloquially known as the 'ratchet mechanism'.
The venue for the conference is the SEC Centre in Glasgow. Originally due to be held in November 2020 at the same venue, the event was postponed for twelve months in light of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom will hold the presidency of COP26. Initially, the Minister of State for Energy and Clean Growth, Claire Perry O'Neill, was appointed as president of the conference, but she was abruptly removed on 31 January 2020, several months after she had stepped down as an MP. Former Prime Minister David Cameron and former Foreign Secretary William Hague declined to take the role. On 13 February 2020, Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary Alok Sharma was appointed. On 8 January 2021, Sharma was succeeded by Kwasi Kwarteng as Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary and moved to the Cabinet Office, in order to focus on the presidency full-time.
Nigel Topping was appointed as the UK Government's High Level Climate Action Champion for COP26; he is the former CEO of We Mean Business, a climate change action organisation. Also appointed to the role of Climate Finance Adviser was Mark Carney, former Governor of the Bank of England.
Italy will partner with the UK in leading COP26. For the most part, their role will be in preparatory work such as the hosting of a pre-COP session and an event for young people called Youth4Climate 2020: Driving Ambition. These events were scheduled to take place between 28 September and 2 October 2020 in Milan.
Under the Paris Agreement, countries submitted Intended nationally determined contributions, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to a "business as usual" scenario. Under the framework of the Paris Agreement, each country was expected to submit enhanced nationally determined contributions every five years, to ratchet up ambition to mitigate climate change. Since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, the conference of 2020 was set to be the first iteration of the ratchet mechanism. Future iterations will also take into account the "global stocktake", the first of which is in 2023.
In light of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, the Conference of Parties was postponed until 1–12 November, 2021. Host nations Italy and the United Kingdom were heavily affected by the pandemic, and the venue of the conference, the SEC Centre in Glasgow, was converted in May 2020 into a temporary hospital for COVID-19 patients.
UNFCCC Secretary Patricia Espinosa tweeted that "in light of the ongoing, worldwide effects of COVID-19, holding an ambitious, inclusive, COP26 in November 2020 is not possible." She also indicated that when economies restart, this will be an opportunity to "shape the 21st century economy in ways that are clean, green, healthy, just, safe and more resilient." The rearranged date was announced in May 2020. Earlier in 2021, the UK and Italy are due to host summits of the G7 and G20 respectively.
Independent observers noted that though not directly related, the postponement gave the international community time to respond to the outcome of the United States presidential election, held in November 2020. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement, although this could not take effect until 4 November 2020; while his Democratic challengers pledged to immediately rejoin the Paris Agreement and increase ambition to reduce emissions. On January 20, 2021 President Joe Biden rejoined the Paris Accord.
Previous summits have been sponsored by fossil fuel companies. To reduce this influence, the UK government decided that sponsors "have to have real commitments in place to help them reach net zero in the near future". The first principal partners are the British companies: National Grid plc, NatWest Group, Scottish Power and SSE plc.
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