The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP26, is set to take place in Glasgow between 31st October and 12th November 2021. The Conference brings together leaders from around the world to set out and accelerate ambitious goals for reaching carbon neutrality.
There is a long way to go in the race to net-zero, decarbonisation, and tackling the devastating effects of climate change. Whilst countries around the world have been making positive changes, we are not acting fast enough. The world must join forces to address the climate crisis. This is why events like COP26 are paramount to outline and reinforce climate efforts.
The goal of the October COP26 Summit in Glasgow is to bring countries together to discuss and accelerate their 2030 emissions reductions targets and how they align with global mid-century net-zero targets.
In this article, we aim to highlight the COP26 goals , as outlined ahead of the event, and discuss how individuals, decision-makers, and organisations, can help to achieve them.
Key goals of the summit:
1. Secure global net-zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach
The targets announced in Paris would result in global warming greater than 3 degrees by 2100 compared to pre-industrial levels. This could lead to continued catastrophic floods, wildfires, weather extremes, and species’ extinction. COP26 will urge countries to come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets that align with reaching net-zero by 2050.
To deliver on these stretching targets, as outlined by COP 26, countries will need to:
- accelerate the phase-out of coal
- curtail deforestation
- speed up the switch to electric vehicles
- encourage investment in renewables
What Can We Do?
We can all aid the race to net zero by making our buildings more efficient. We must focus on quality insulation, effective heating and cooling solutions, and managing power supplies. Applying solar panel technology can reduce the need for fossil fuels as energy sources. We can invest in and adopt Electric Vehicles, as well as charging infrastructure, to help decarbonise our transport sectors. We can invest in and create more onshore and offshore wind farms, which are essential to a low-carbon future. Wind power is extremely cost and space-effective and plays a significant role in helping us lean away from fossil fuels.
2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats
Even as we work tirelessly to reduce emissions, further change is inevitable. We know that the most vulnerable are at the greatest risk from climate change and that they have done the least to cause it. Action to address this and build resilience is needed now before more people lose their lives or livelihoods. As COP26 will outline, we need to work together to enable and encourage countries affected by climate change too:
- protect and restore ecosystems
- build defences, warning systems and resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and even lives
What Can We Do?
To urgently help protect communities and natural habitats, we need to band together on a global scale to ensure that ecosystems are guarded against man-made destruction. We can build conservation strategies involving the expansion of protected area coverage and take care of dangerously threatened species to preserve them. We can ensure indigenous-controlled territories, rich in biodiversity and cultural knowledge, are protected by conservation restrictions. This gives local communities power over protecting the diversity of their environments and helps achieve global targets.
3. 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.
Countries need to manage the increasing impacts of climate change on their citizens’ lives. However, they need the funding to do it. The scale and speed of the changes we need to make will require all forms of finance. Public finance to develop the infrastructure we need to transition to a greener and more climate-resilient economy. Private finance to fund technology and innovation and to help turn the billions of public money into trillions of total climate investment.
What Can We Do?
We must pledge to take climate change into account when we make financial decisions; everything from private investments to global spending. We can use financial initiatives to support climate goals, like the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero. We also need to ensure that decision-makers in businesses are trained to make these important financial decisions. Decision-makers must be equipped with appropriate Management and Finance training, which will ensure companies are operating both profitably and in favour of global targets.
4. Work together to deliver
Climate change has been described as the most serious challenge facing the world today. COP26 intends to outline ways in which we as a society can communicate and work together to deliver the ambitious 2050 goals.
Doing so will help deliver the other three goals and show everyone that the world is moving to a resilient, net-zero economy. We can only rise to the challenges of the climate crisis by working together.
COP26 aims to:
- finalise the Paris Rulebook (the detailed rules that make the Paris Agreement operational)
- accelerate action to tackle the climate crisis through collaboration between governments, businesses, and civil society.
What Can We Do?
We need to ensure that on a local, national, and international level, we are collaborating to accelerate decarbonisation and push towards global targets. Initiatives from COP26, to our most recent roundtable event, encourage individuals at all levels to consider Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency goals and to harness agreement on implementing them.
How Can Renewable Energy Training help?
Quality Renewables training can aid the goals discussed in COP26 by creating a workforce of individuals with the most up-to-date knowledge in Renewable Energy technology and best practice. We must understand the full range of Renewable Energy Solutions, and how to manage these on both an individual and organisational level. This will help us reach net-zero, mobilise finance, and work together to deliver protection for communities and wildlife.
Pre-COP26 “Smart Campus Cloud Network”
The Renewable Energy Institute co-hosted the Smart Campus Cloud Network event in conjunction with COP26 to raise awareness on the discussed topics. The recording will be available soon.
The Renewable Energy Institute recently hosted an expert-led COP26 Roundtable to explore the upcoming goals of the summit. Click here to receive the recording: https://www.renewableinstitute.org/cop26-roundtable-registration/
 COP26 Goals https://ukcop26.org/cop26-goals/