COP26 opens its doors in Glasgow

Many global leaders have gathered in Glasgow, Scotland, today as COP26 finally kicks off (a year later than originally planned due to the pandemic). The next two weeks will see numerous negotiations to determine whether we can take the action needed in the fight against climate change.

Naturalist David Attenborough today told world leader’s that the future of young people should provide impetus to turn tragedy into triumph. He said: “Carbon emissions must be halved this decade to keep warming limited to 1.5C by the end of the century.”

COP26 brings the major emitting countries face to face with the most vulnerable to climate change. The summit will send a clear signal to negotiators to be as ambitious as possible and agree on a negotiated outcome. COP26 also aims to underscore that the Paris Agreement is working, with increased commitments on finance, emissions, and adaptation as we see the first crank of the Paris Agreement ratchet.

Moving from the promise of Paris, announcements in key sectors will start to show how Glasgow will deliver. This includes new commitments on consigning coal to history, electric cars, reducing deforestation and addressing methane emissions.


Children's letters on the concourse of the SEC - Courtesy of COP 26, Doug Peters / UK Government
Children’s letters on the concourse of the SEC

The UK’s leadership

According to UK COP26.org, between 1990 and 2019, the UK achieved record clean growth and the economy grew by 78%, while emissions decreased by 44% over this time.

The Prime Minister has recently set out a Ten Point Plan for a green industrial revolution to help the UK reach its climate goals while creating thousands of high-skilled and high-paid jobs. The plan focuses on increasing ambition in:

  • Advancing offshore wind
  • Driving the growth of low carbon hydrogen
  • Delivering new and advanced nuclear power
  • Accelerating the shift to zero emission vehicles
  • Green public transport, cycling and walking
  • ‘Jet zero’ and green ships
  • Greener buildings
  • Investing in carbon capture, usage, and storage
  • Protecting our natural environment
  • Green finance and innovation.

What needs to be achieved at COP26?

Countries are being asked to come forward with 2030 emissions reduction targets that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century. To deliver on these targets, countries are planning to accelerate the phaseout of coal and encourage renewables as well as speeding up the switch to electric vehicles (EVs).

COP26 aims to see countries affected by climate change working together to protect and restore ecosystems. Negotiators must finalise the Paris Rulebook (the rules needed to implement the Paris Agreement). As well as this, the summit aims to turn ambitions into action by accelerating collaboration between governments, businesses, and society to deliver on goals faster.

Check back tomorrow as the summit continues with further statements and leader events on action on forests, land use and accelerating clean technology, innovation, and development.