What is COP26?

Megan Hermes explains what COP26 is and why it's so important this year.

The other day a friend asked me what COP actually stands for, and I had to think for a minute there. I know what it is, the United Nations annual summit of climate change, but what does COP itself stand for?

COP stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’, usually, it happens every year but it was delayed last year due to the pandemic. The first COP meeting was held in Berlin, Germany in March 1995, since then each year governments of practically every country in the world, alongside other key figures, come together to make plans for tackling the climate crisis. This year’s summit is called COP26 because it’s the 26th time it’s been held. It will be held in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November. It’s a critical moment when countries must set goals, commit to bold climate action and stay accountable.

Each day’s negotiations will focus on a different topic, including finance, energy, youth and public empowerment, nature and transport. You can find the details of the schedule, or the ‘Presidency programme’, on the COP26 website.

If it happens every year why is this year so important?

COP26 is the biggest climate summit since the 2015 Paris Agreement as leaders are coming together to review the progress on climate change since the Paris Agreement and to make commitments for the future. After being postponed, the timing of this COP is crucial. During the current COVID-19 crisis, many are beginning to wonder what life might look like afterwards. Is this a chance to create a new normal? We believe we have an opportunity to address the immediate crisis and look beyond it to transform our society and economy so the whole world, current and future generations, and all of creation, can flourish.

However for this to happen we need our governments and leaders to act. We need pandemic recovery plans that will create good jobs and are aligned with global climate targets. We need national climate commitments that will reduce carbon emissions quickly and put us on course to limit warming to the safer level of 1.5℃ as they promised in the Paris Agreement, and for richer, more polluting countries to keep the promise of providing $100b a year of climate finance. We are also seeing that the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to an increase in inequality in almost every country at once - the first time this has happened since records began. The virus has exposed, fed off, and increased existing inequalities of wealth, gender, and race. We can start tackling this growing inequality by cancelling the debt of poorer countries to allow them breathing space to recover from the pandemic. We need leaders from all nations to hear the voices of people across the world and to deliver pandemic recoveries and climate commitments that give us a safer world for us all to flourish.

What is Renew our World doing- and what can I do?

Whilst at COP we will be handing in our #Reset21 campaign petition, you can take action by signing the petition and sharing it with your networks ahead of COP so we have as many signatures as possible for our hand in.

We strongly believe that prayer is crucial for bringing breakthrough in the climate emergency. That’s why we have created a COP prayer resource to help guide your prayers in the lead up to the conference, you can find the guide here in multiple translations. Again please do share this resource with your friends, families and networks so we can mobilise our communities across the globe in prayer for this key moment.

Members of our global campaign will be travelling to Glasgow for the conference, be sure to follow us on social media or sign up to our mailing list to hear updates from them whilst we are there.

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