From October 31 to November 12 of the current year, the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will be celebrated in the city of Glasgow, Scotland. We share with you some essential questions and answers to understand what the COPs are and why this one, in particular, is considered the most important global Conference since the Second World War.
What is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)?
The UNFCCC was originated at the 1992 Río de Janeiro Earth Summit and was validated in 1994. This was the first instance in which governments from all around the world established the goal of stabilizing concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHG) - mainly carbon dioxide - to a level that doesn’t allow anthropic activities to dangerously affect the climate system.
Since its creation, the Convention works after developing a general framework that allows to comprehend and establish the intergovernmental efforts needed to face the challenges provoked by climate change.
Currently, 196 countries are part of this, and the focus is on compliance with the Paris Agreement formulated at COP21 in 2015. This agreement’s final objective is to limit global warming far below 2°C, preferably to 1,5°C, in relation to the pre-industrial levels (the period between 1850-1900). If not, the impacts on the planetarium system will be severe and it will be very difficult to establish mitigation and adaptation measures to face them, thus affecting the different regions of the world in an unequal manner.
To reach this objective, each country must present what is known as the National Determined Contributions (NDC). These are the climatic action roadmap where national goals of GHG emission reductions and the actions and measures to implement are established. The NDCs are updated every 5 years in the search to establish more ambitious goals each time.
What is the Conference of the Parties (COP)?
The COP is the supreme organism of decision-making of the Convention, in which every member country is found represented. In this, the effective implementation of the Convention, the national communications, and the inventories of GHG emissions that each country presents are checked. Based on all this information, the consequences and effectiveness of the measures taken by each country and the progress regarding the compliance of the final goal of the Convention of fighting climate change are evaluated.
On this following COP26, the updates of the NDCs will be evaluated, since in 2020 the first 5 years period established was accomplished.
Why is COP26 so important?
In 1992, when UNFCCC was created, the cientific evidence and knowledge available about the occurrence of climate change weren´t abundant and the cientific consent wasn´t clear neither. But for some time now, after years of investigation and study, cientific experts affirm that the level of consent regarding climate change and its anthropic causes is between 90% and 100%. Its existence, implications, and the urgency with which it needs to be addressed cannot be denied.
Furthermore, past August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its last report in which affirms the unequivocally and narrow relation between human activity and the fast and intense changes which are been observed in the global climatic system. At the same time, it focuses on the urgency of taking care of the climatic crisis because if the emissions aren’t reduced immediately, the goal of limiting the warming to 1,5°C or even 2°C, will be impossible to reach.
Despite the facts explained, a report made by the UN at the beginning of this year shows that the compromises assumed by the countries aren¨t enough, and the lack of collective ambition raises big challenges and obstacles to accomplish the goals of the Paris Agreement.
Immersed in this context, the COP26 is a key and decisive event. There is still time to avoid exceeding 1.5°C of global warming, but achieving this will require unprecedented transitions. To do so, the actions made before 2030 are critical, and they need a reduction in the global carbon dioxide gases emission by 45%. In this sense, this COP offers a big opportunity to change the path and face the climatic emergency once for all. The countries must assume the compromise and set ambitious goals that really drive to a decarbonized and sustainable-in -time economy. And above all, this COP must demand, negotiate and agree on concrete and real measures that will allow us to take action and ensure that the 1.5°C objective remains possible.
So, what is expected to be achieved in the COP26?
Four are the goals that are pretended to be achieved:
Securing the pathway to 2050 with net-zero global emissions. The countries will present their updated NDC, which must be aligned with the Paris Agreement´s objectives. The goals must be the most ambitious possible to accelerate the decarbonization of the economies and the energy transition.
Work on the adaptation measures needed to protect the communities and ecosystems. Especially in those countries more vulnerable to climate change. Restore natural habitats and build defense and alert systems are just some of the measures that improve the resilience among these communities.
Secure the financial mobilization agreed in order to be capable of accomplishing the two goals mentioned previously. The developed countries must fulfill their commitment of raise at least 100 billion dollars per year to fund climatic policies and provide help to the developing countries. To achieve net-zero emissions, all the financial decisions must take into account climate change, and the largest possible public and private sector investment must be generated.
Achieve collective cooperation to contribute solutions to the global climate crisis. It is highly important that governments, companies, and organizations of civil society work together. Humanity faces one of the most serious, urgent, and complex challenges in its history, if not the largest, and we can face it only by working and cooperating in a joint manner.