Have you heard about COP26 in the news recently? There’s so much buzz going on across the media with politicians making statements left right and centre! We noticed that things may be a bit confusing. There’s nothing worse than a big international conference covering the news but leaving people scratching their heads!
What does COP26 mean to you? Will it affect all of us? Do we need to brush up on our knowledge? The short answer to that last question is, no. We’re going to bring you snippets from COP26 all month with the aim to break it down into digestible bites. Instead of reading hundreds of news articles, we’ll bring you the latest news but more importantly showing what it means for you and your lifestyle. First things first, let’s introduce COP26.
What is COP26 and what is its purpose?
You may have heard of the Paris Agreement that happened in 2015. A historic event that saw world leaders agree an international treaty on climate change. The United Nations all signed and agreed to make a difference and lead their respective nation towards a greener future. In 5 years, they would review their efforts and make changes as necessary. Well, we’re at the 5-year mark and COP26 is acting as a sort of ‘reunion’.
Although COP summits pre-date the Paris Agreement, this one is extra special as due to COVID, the meeting never occurred in 2020. It’s a significant event for world leaders to look at their progress, check their efforts are enough and adjust their actions to succeed in the future.
Initially, the aims were to limit the global temperature increase to 2°C as a minimum with the aspirational aim to reach 1.5°C but to also help poorer nations fight climate change by funding them. These two broad terms of temperature control and funding for poorer nations came with a 5-year review. It doesn’t sound like much, but the outline of these agreements allowed each nation to create a strategy that suited them and their citizens. Leaving little room for ‘excuses’ on not achieving goals.
COP26 will review the efforts the UK has made in the last 5 years. Whether they were sufficient enough, what they’re currently doing and any future plans. So, what has changed in the UK in the last 5 years?
The UK’s position going into COP26
According to the Climate Action Tracker, the UK is ranked ‘almost sufficient’ in its efforts since the Paris Agreement. Not such a great start considering they are the host nation for COP26. But international image is not what this event is about – despite what many may think. It’s ultimately about helping the planet and enabling people like us to do our part.
In the last year, as a nation, we have set high targets for reducing emissions before 2030 and 2035 – targets which will see us successfully do our part to reach the praised 1.5°C goal. Currently, the UK sits in a ‘talking the talk’ position. If we do what we say we’re going to do, we’ll be walking the walk too.
What changes have happened in the last 5 years?
You may have noticed some changes, but most will go under our radars. The largest impact to make a difference in recent years is the increase of renewable energy. Something you may have been made aware of when we spoke about energy previously on this blog. Even if you haven’t changed to a notably eco-friendly supplier, a lot of your electricity will now be from wind and solar power rather than coal.
Another large impact has been from the reduction of fuel consumption. This ranges from businesses providing employee bikes on Cycle to Work schemes, but also fewer meetings relying on in-person discussions. This goes hand-in-hand with the quality of vehicles in use. Electric cars, although not financially accessible to all, have also played their part in reducing national emissions. We’re expecting the transport sector to be a big topic of conversation at COP26 too.
What is going to happen in the future?
So, what does COP26 mean for us going forward? While evidence shows that better resources of energy and fuel have helped get us on the right path, the time has come for another big push. Finding the next breakthrough is essential. The challenge is providing an option that is affordable, accessible and undeniably good for the environment. We’ll just have to wait and see to find out what that looks like.
As Greenredeem members, we know you’re doing your bit every day by completing pledges and making real-life changes to the way you live. Whether you’ve started cycling to work, swapped your energy supplier, created a functional garden or managed your carbon footprint through your diet and food waste – it’s all making a difference. It’s important to remember that while the Government seek the next big change to make, we must still pluck away at sustainable changes to our lifestyle. That is what will truly make a difference when it comes to fighting climate change.