Today’s Solutions: October 24, 2021

Leaders from around the world are preparing for COP26, and we at The Optimist Daily are gearing up to report on the latest climate action surrounding the conference, but today we’re here to share some basic details on what COP26 is and what outcomes it hopes to achieve in terms of curbing global emissions.

What is COP26?

COP stands for “conference of parties,” meaning a collection of representatives from around the world coming together to discuss commitments to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC. Once a year, the countries committed to the UNFCCC treaty convene to discuss climate action, policy, and steps already taken to limit emissions and global warming. The 26 refers to the 26th iteration of the meeting, which first occurred in 1992, when 154 countries signed on to the UNFCCC treaty. This year’s meeting will take place in Glasgow, Scotland. 

What topics are on the table?

Climate change is a big issue, so the topics covered will be wide ranging, but key issues include how to hold countries accountable for their fair share of emissions, how much financial aid smaller countries should receive, and what reasonable goals for emissions reductions are.

Urgency of climate action will likely be a big topic of discussion following the newest IPCC report highlighting the time-sensitive nature of climate change. Multiple countries are expected to advocate for the end of new fossil fuel exploration within the next couple of years.

Who will attend COP26?

20,000 delegates are scheduled to attend COP26 from the 192 countries which signed onto the Paris Agreement at COP25. This includes 120 heads of state as well as a host of “observer organizations”—NGOs, youth organizations, policy groups, lobbyists, and businesses—which do not sit in on the actual closed-door meetings, but attend to influence negotiations and report on progress. 

Why does COP26 matter?

These meetings are critical because they bring together players from many different countries all focused on one goal: climate action. It offers us a setting to hash out tangible climate goals as well as an opportunity to refocus the attention of governments, businesses, and citizens on the critical issue of climate change. If all goes well, we will hopefully see a renewed commitment to emissions mitigation from countries around the world next month.

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