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#COP26 and #theclimatecrisis have been dominating our social and news feeds for the last few weeks. Although many of us understand the importance of COP26, we wanted to provide a short blog post to highlight what will be happening in Glasgow and how us bystanders can keep up to date with it all.  

If the conference is new to you, we would highly recommend using this Climate change jargon buster (by the climate coalition) whilst reading this blog post.


We are just over halfway through the Conference of the parties in Glasgow which began on the 1st of November and continues through to the 12th November.

Within the conference itself, there are two zones: the Blue Zone and the Green Zone. The Blue Zone is run by the United Nations and is reserved for official delegates including politicians and negotiators, the media and nominated NGOs.

The Green Zone is managed by the UK Government and this element of the conference is open to the public. Within the Green Zone there is a range of activities scheduled in-person or virtually. I would highly recommend viewing the full schedule of events in the Green Zone, to see if any virtual events pick your interest over the remaining days.

Published in the official Presidency Programme, the wider timetable for the conference maps out the varying themes which will be discussed each day.

These themes are:

  • Finance
  • Energy
  • Youth and Public Empowerment
  • Nature
  • Adaptation, Loss and Damage
  • Gender
  • Science and Innovation
  • Transport
  • Cities, Regions and Built Environment

At the end of the conference, there will be a closing plenary session, highlighting if significant agreements have been reached during the negotiations.


What are the aims at COP26?

The COP26 has defined aims which can be read in the conference’s “COP 26 Explained” publication. But I have broken these down for slightly easier reading:

  • Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats;
  • Secure global net zero by 2050 and keep 1.5ºC warming within reach;
  • Mobilise finance, by delivering and raising climate finance from developed countries. 
  • Work together to deliver – turning those ambitions into actions. 

Fundamentally, the recently published Working Group I contribution to the 6th Assessment Report (AR6) of the IPCC found that under all five of the emissions scenarios scrutinised, not one of the scenarios point to us avoiding a 1.5ºC warming. The report projects that we are currently on track for a warming between 2.1ºC to 3.5ºC before the end of this century.

This means that for COP26 to be “successful” (referring to its stated aims), the event will need to produce the most ambitious climate commitment outcomes that we have seen at this scale to date.



What types of outcomes can we expect from COP26?

The outcomes will be unclear until the end of the conference. However, here are a range of the possible outcomes that we should all be watching out for at COP26: 

  1. Progress on climate justice. More than ever there has been a demand for climate justice. The UK Youth Climate Coalition has published its Youth Demands for Climate Justice– a demand for the UK government to achieve climate justice locally and globally. The COP is already controversial because of its exclusivity and inaccessibility to many delegates from the Global South. There’s also the question of the $100 billion annual sum in climate finance that richer countries had pledged to give to developing countries back in 2009, which arguably so far, has never materialised. As a bystander it will be interesting to see where discussions go within this area.
  2. Additional climate pledges.There will be lot of these – mostly pertaining the roll-out of electric vehicles and the phase-out of coal. It will be important to drill down into these new commitments to make sure that pledges can be fulfilled.
  3. New emissions trading rules.The Article 6 is a particularly incomprehensible clause within the Paris Agreement. The Article relates to the way that emission trading schemes and carbon markets work. Correct rules for the implementation of Article 6 are currently missing from the current “Paris Rulebook” – (the name given to determine the frameworks which govern the implementation of the agreements made in Paris). The outcomes (if any) from further negotiations as to the rules relating to Article 6 of the Paris Agreement are likely to have huge implications for carbon markets worldwide pledges around this topic will be particularly interesting.
  4. Specific guidance for policy implementation. Often, after previous climate agreements have been stated, it has taken a long time before guidance is produced to help organisations and civil society work towards those aims. It would be good for this year’s COP to provide frameworks to organisations wanting to contribute to the big and bold climate pledges, but previously haven’t had access to guidance or know how.


Who to follow for updates during COP?

Some of our favourite webpages to places to follow what’s happening can be seen below.

  • We have previously mentioned the Climate Watch NDC Tracker earlier in the post– this is a breakdown of how each country is contributing to their new climate pledges.
  • For Twitter users, to keep up with the conversations on the ground, we would recommend following this list of climate scientists alongside following the #COP26 hashtag, this group will have insights into what’s going on at Glasgow. 
  • Again, as mentioned at the beginning of the post, you can use the Climate Coalition’s “Jargon Buster”to help understand the technical terms that will be used by politicians and news channels over the next few days.
  • You can also follow COP related updates on news channels like the BBC.
  • In turn, there will be a large number of other virtual activities taking place in the Green Zone over the course of this week.


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