"Boris Johnson launch of COP26" by Andrew Parsons (No10 Downing Street) is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

In November, Glasgow will host the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). Experts warn that the global summit could be the world’s last chance to stop a climate disaster. But is the UK really ready to host the event?

What is COP26?

COP26 is the UN’s 26th annual climate conference. The first ever summit took place in Berlin in 1995. The event was scheduled to take place in Glasgow last year but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will now take place from 1 to 12 November this year.

Who’s in charge?

On 8 January this year, the UK government appointed Alok Sharma MP as COP26 President. Sharma will set the summit’s agenda, and oversee formal negotiations between nations. He must also persuade other countries to take the summit seriously.

How are the UK’s climate credentials?

Given the UK is hosting the conference, they are under pressure to prove their commitment to fighting climate change. The government is currently pledging to reach net carbon zero emissions by 2050. Last year, the UK generated more electricity from wind power than fossil fuels for the first time ever.

However, the government also gave permission earlier this year for the construction of a coal mine in Cumbria. If built, it will be the UK’s first new coal mine in 30 years. 

"Greater Gabbard wind farm" by Department of Energy and Climate Change is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
“Greater Gabbard wind farm” by Department of Energy and Climate Change is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Will the conference be a success?

The election of Joe Biden last year raised global hopes that meaningful action can be agreed in November. He has already pledged to re-enter the USA into the Paris Climate Accord – an agreement which Donald Trump withdrew from during his presidency. However, previous summits suggest that ambitious commitments will be difficult to reach.

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