Everything you need to know about COP26

By Pelican Consultant Emma Scott

2 minute read

Key takeaways

  • The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in November 2021
  • COP26 will be the first time NDCs are reviewed since the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement
  • Whatever is decided from the COP26 Glasgow summit, the goals and targets agreed will affect every business.

Glasgow to plant 18m trees as city readies for Cop26 climate summit’, ‘Europe calls for more ambitious climate policies ahead of COP26’, ‘Sir David Attenborough named COP26 People’s Advocate’. It’s likely you’ve seen COP26 referenced in the headlines, but what is it and what does it mean for your business?

What is COP26?

For nearly three decades the UN has brought together almost every country for global climate summits known as COPs, which stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’. This year will be the 26th annual summit, hence, COP26. More than 190 world leaders will take part, along with thousands of negotiators, government representatives, businesses and citizens during twelve days of talks on how to tackle climate change.

When and where?

The UK will host COP26 in Glasgow on 1 – 12 November 2021. This is the first time the UK has hosted the conference, which was originally scheduled for November 2020 but, like so many things, postponed due to the pandemic.

What does COP26 hope to achieve?

The overall goals of COP26 are:

  1. Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees temperature rise within reach.

This will mean accelerating the phase-out of coal, curtailing deforestation and speeding up the switch to electric vehicles.

  1. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats.

There will be a focus on protecting and restoring ecosystems, as well as building defences, warning systems and resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and lives.

  1. Mobilise finance

To deliver on the first two goals, developed countries must make good on their promise to mobilise at least $100bn in climate finance per year by 2020.

  1. Work together to deliver

‘We can only rise to the challenges of the climate crisis by working together’.

COP26 is particularly significant as it marks five years since the landmark Paris Climate Agreement (which was adopted at COP 21), where 194 UN member states pledged to keep average temperatures below two degrees of warming.

Under the Paris Agreement, countries committed to bring forward national plans setting out how much they would reduce carbon emissions – known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). COP26 will be an important step in understanding how meaningful the NDCs have been and in measuring global progress on climate change.

Why should you care?

Whatever is decided at COP26, the goals and targets agreed are likely to affect every business. And as consumers increasingly expect brands to do more for the environment, those proactively measuring, monitoring and reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, and taking steps to mitigate to climate change, will fare much better than those which don’t.

It’s vital businesses understand what policies are being developed, and while the outcome of COP26 remains to be seen, it can be safely assumed every business will need a robust net zero plan at some point in the near future.

If possible you should announce a net zero commitment before COP, but if this is not realistic, you should still prioritise understanding your company’s carbon footprint and where its greatest emissions are. From there you can begin to create your strategy for reducing them, including setting targets.

Pelican Communications is a specialist in the environment & CSRfoodpackaging & logistics and trade association sectors and offers a range of services such as strategydesigncontent creationpublic relations and people developmentContact us for marketing and communications expertise.


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