This year’s UN negotiations come at a watershed moment. The world’s climate goals are dangerously close to falling out of reach. Countries around the world promise bold action one time and more fossil fuel extraction the next. Developing nations, burdened with the worst effects of a problem in which they had little hand to create, are losing patience with the rich countries that have fueled the crisis. Critics are already considering what happens no Yes countries are not meeting their collective climate goals, but when.
So as world leaders meet later this month in Scotland to come up with a plan to save the planet, National Observer of Canada I will be there. We will delve into how Canada, a early adopter ambitious UN climate goals, but also one of the the worst polluters on Earth – fits the COP26 Talks. We will learn lessons from the rest of the world on how to stop the extractive systems that fuel the climate crisis and protect communities from the emergency that is already at our doorstep.
Traveling to COP26 is not a decision we make lightly; we have thought a lot about what it means to take a plane to attend a climate conference. Carbon will be wasted bringing delegates from all corners of the world to the negotiating table, and many more will be forced to stay at home, hampered by pandemic restrictions and travel costs. Like any other international negotiation, COP26 is inherently flawed. Still, it matters.
Whether or not politicians are up to the monumental task before them, we know that the story of climate change must be told: what it means to everyday Canadians now and how it can, and will, shape, to our future. What can we as individuals do to help, and what will a systems change require beyond the power of anyone? COP26 and the many conversations surrounding it are part of that history, and we look forward to bringing the sights and sounds of Glasgow to you directly.
What is COP26, anyway?
COP – or Conference of the Parties – is the annual climate conference of the United Nations, where 197 countries from around the world sit down to negotiate environmental goals for the planet. These high-level conversations have taken place every year since 1995 (except last year, when COVID-19 hit). When it comes to global cooperation, they are a big problem: the COP gave us the Paris Agreement, the current global plan for climate action, in 2015, and the Kyoto Protocol, another landmark climate agreement, in 1997.
This year, the conference, called COP26 because it is the 26th meeting of countries signed to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, from October 31 to November 12.
COP26 will have two main parts:
- Official negotiations, where country representatives specify their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to the impacts of climate change, help other countries decarbonize and more
- Public events in the Green Zone, where groups of young people, artists, academics, companies and people from all over the world will host events, exhibitions, cultural shows, workshops and talks focused on climate action
You can read more about the conference, how it works and what is being negotiated this year in our COP26 Explainer.
This year’s UN negotiations come at a watershed moment. This is why @NatObserver will be present at # COP26.
What is important about COP26?
With less than a decade left to avoid the most serious impacts of global warming, virtually all POPs are important going forward, but this year’s conference is where rubber meets the road.
Here’s why it’s important, and why Canadians should care, from some of my colleagues:
“COP26 is especially important because it is the first important control since the Paris Agreement was signed. It is considered to be the last chance on the planet because the window to keep global warming at 1.5 C (the goal of the Paris Agreement) is closing rapidly. “
– John woodside, Ottawa
“COP26 matters because it is the first time that the commitments made by world leaders in Paris have been put to the test. For Canadians, that means looking at what the Justin Trudeau government has done since their newly elected Environment Minister signed that agreement in 2015. It also means looking at the global trajectory and deciding what role to play to alter it from here. “
– Morgan sharp, Toronto
“Canadians should be concerned about COP26 because whatever climate decisions international leaders make on the world stage, whether solid or ineffective, will actually be played out and felt at home, in people’s lives, in people’s health, in their lives. workplaces, schools, and communities. “
– Rochelle Baker, Quadra Island, BC
“Over the years, the COP has evolved into more than a negotiation event: many activists from around the world will gather in Glasgow to share knowledge and ideas. Working together will be the best way to address climate issues, especially in the context of a pandemic. “
– Nora legrand, Paris
“Climate is a global crisis that will only be resolved through international collaboration, and COP26 is one of the few spaces where these relationships can be formed. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect: international law is built on trust and responsibility, which are often avoided by powerful and wealthy countries like Canada and the fossil fuel companies that pressure them to stay on the current, emissions-intensive course. .
“However, the conference offers a space where the promises and inactions of our governments are exhibited. More importantly, it is a place where activists, elected officials and others who are really making change on the ground can come together, share ideas, and find the energy and community needed to transform the way we live on Earth. “
– Marc Fawcett-Atkinson, Vancouver
Here’s what we’ll be looking for on the ground in Glasgow:
Rochelle Baker (@ RochelleBaker1) covers how the collapse of biodiversity and the climate emergency are intertwined, the rights and roles of indigenous peoples in climate mitigation and conservation, and the importance of the oceans and the participation of civil society.
“I am less enthusiastic about what world leaders are doing and what they decide. I am eager and excited to witness how stakeholders in society, such as indigenous peoples, women, youth, protesters, environmental groups and scientists, will hold politicians to account. They are the real force behind climate action and the entities that will push for it to happen on the ground in their countries and communities. “
John woodside (@Woods) covers Canada’s role in negotiations, climate finance, and the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance.
“Climate finance is important because how we pay for things like climate-resilient infrastructure and clean energy will determine the kinds of societies we live in. A world where the government pays for weather resistant roads is very different from a world where the private sector pays for it and then seeks to make a profit, for example. How developed countries will get climate finance for developing countries is another important issue. On the one hand, it will be essential that rich countries provide the money. On the other hand, with money comes power, and we are on the cusp of a new era of greenwashed colonialism if we are not careful.
“The Alliance Beyond Oil and Gas I am also on the lookout because this is an international alliance launched by Costa Rica and Denmark that will try to set clear objectives to phase out oil and gas production. There are rumors that Quebec will sign independently of Canada, so I’m watching to see if that happens, but even if that doesn’t happen, Canadians should take note that the world is quickly making plans to drop a product that the federal government is spending billions of our dollars to help get to market. The transition from fossil fuels is going to happen much faster than many Canadians probably realize, and that has gigantic implications for the country in the future. “
Marc Fawcett-Atkinson (@FawcettAtkinson) covers plastics and the way climate change shapes our food systems.
“Despite contributing about a third of global emissions, food does not feature prominently in planned conversations and is more likely to feature in discussions of carbon markets and nature-based solutions. Plastics are not on the agenda either. This is particularly shocking in light of a recent report that found they contribute as many or more emissions as coal in the US, in addition to suffocating oceans and the leaching of toxic chemicals into the environment. “
Morgan sharp (@ 5thEstate) covers the youth movement fighting for a secure future for the climate.
“I will be reporting on youth and youth, and the roles they are playing in and around the conference. The youth climate strike movement had such momentum when it hit COVID-19, and those who were left with more time to deal with climate change issues are more motivated to do something about it. I am excited to hear your ideas about what is still possible. “
Nora legrand provides audiovisual coverage of COP26, including photos, short vlogs and video clips of key moments from the conference.
“During COP26, I will interview delegates in French and English … I am very excited to connect with climate change activists from different countries and have the opportunity to interview a couple of celebrities there.”
You can stay informed about what we are doing at COP26 by following @NatObserver on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Some of my colleagues and I will also be tweeting from the conference with the hashtag # CNOxCOP26.
Editor’s Note: Also on the ground at COP26 with Canada’s team of national observers will be Linda Solomon Wood, Adrienne Tanner, Janel Johnson, Jenny Uechi and Karen Mahon. Suzanne Dhaliwal will coordinate social media.