COP26 is under way in Glasgow, but what is it and why is this conference so important? COPS or Conference of Parties have been running since 1994 when the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was signed. This is the 26th COP to take place and building on the agreements made at COP21 it’s widely regarded as being the ‘best last opportunity’ to make meaningful change.
EU member states and 197 other countries who signed the 1994 treaty attend and are joined by observer states, press and media and observer organisations. The event is split into two zones; Green and Blue. The Green zone is being held at the Glasgow Science Centre and is open to members of the public with over 100 exhibitors and 200 events. The Blue zone at the SECC is for national delegations, organisations or agencies related to the United Nations, non-profit observers, press and media. The area where the decision making and agreements will take place.
Why was COP21 so important?
COP21, in Paris, was ground-breaking as it was the first time every country at the conference agreed to work together to limit global warming to below 2 degrees, aiming for 1.5 degrees. It was agreed to make changes to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate and that money would be made available to deliver these aims. It’s commonly known as the Paris Agreement. The commitment to aim for 1.5 degrees is important because every fraction of a degree of warming will result in the loss of many more lives lost and livelihoods damaged. Signing the Paris Agreement, countries committed to bring forward national plans setting out how much they would reduce their emissions. It was agreed that every five years they would meet to report back with an updated plan that reflects the highest ambition at that time. COP26 is the first conference where parties will update on their progress. “COP brings countries together to enable and encourage countries affected by climate change to protect and restore ecosystems; build defences, warning systems and resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and lives.”
What are the goals?
- Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach – Countries are being asked to come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century. To deliver this target countries will need to put an end to deforestation, speed up the transition to electric vehicles, accelerate the phasing out of coal, encourage investment in renewables.
- Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats – Countries will have to work together to help those affected by climate change to protect and restore eco-systems and build defences and resilient infrastructure.
- Mobilise finance – developed countries promised to mobilise at least $100bn in climate finance per year by 2020. This will be used to deliver the first two goals.
- Most importantly at COP26 the Paris Rulebook will be finalised. Governments, businesses and civil society must collaborate to accelerate action to tackle the climate crisis.
What can businesses do now?
- Conduct an audit of your waste and recycling provider; find out what they collect for recycling and more importantly what happens to it when it leaves your offices. Here’s what Change Waste Recycling collects for recycling and all the material we collect is reprocessed in the UK. Supporting the local and Circular Economy.
- Recycle your food waste, any business, if it produces food waste should have a recycling service in place. Ask us for more information.
- Engage your staff – if you’re one of our clients there are lots of ways we can help you to recycle more. If you’re not one our clients use our Quick Quote form to find out how we can help your company recycle more.
- Speak to your suppliers they may be able to reduce the amount of packaging, operate a return system or switch to a more sustainable type of packaging.
- Switch your energy provider to one that provides renewable energy.