COP26: what it is and why it matters


The 26th COP, ‘Conference of Parties’, is happening in Glasgow later this year. It’s a global United Nations conference about climate change. And it’s the most important COP since the Paris Agreement in 2015. In our latest blog post, our sustainability lead @shaunagh_at_bulb looks at what it is, why it matters and what’s likely to happen.

The main points are:

  1. World leaders will come together to agree how to tackle climate change

  2. It’s a huge event with lots of people from around the world. And it’s in Glasgow.

  3. There are four big topics that will probably be discussed

  4. Carbon market mechanisms. This means allowing a country to buy ‘carbon credits’ from another country, so it can continue to emit CO2 within its borders. Carbon markets may also allow trading of ‘negative’ emissions, such as absorbing CO2 from the air through forestry. There are very different views on carbon markets, so this is expected to be a big topic of debate.

  5. Loss and damage caused by climate change are core concerns of the Paris Agreement. But, there’s no mechanism to fund responses when vulnerable countries experience loss and damage. This is a crucial part of climate action, but it’s resisted by some more wealthy nations.

  6. The $100 billion finance target agreed in the Paris Agreement means wealthy nations should already have plans to give $100 billion a year to vulnerable countries. Delaying COP26 past the 2020 deadline has made this an even more important part of the talks. New finance targets for 2025 will likely be discussed, too.

  7. Nature-based solutions. This means considering how nature, including forests and agriculture, can become a solution for absorbing CO2 and protecting against climate change.

4. It’s an important moment for the UK to show climate leadership.

COP26 is expected to create new initiatives for delivering climate action globally. But this year is particularly important for the UK because it’s hosted in Glasgow. Usually, the host country nominates a president to take the lead in negotiating new climate commitments.

What do you want to see discussed?

Personally I think the carbon market mechanism is a vital talking point, it’s why offsetting often gets a bad name and has actually allowed companies and countries to continue emitting carbon. But others might think differently…