COP26: what is the climate conference that everyone is talking about

What is COP26, the great UN Climate Conference that could change forever the fate of the planet thanks to the commitment of all the countries of the world

In these days the press around the world is focused on COP26, the important UN Conference that could change the fate of planet Earth.

Organized by the United Kingdom in partnership with Italy, COP26 was supposed to take place last year at the SEC Centre in Glasgow, and was postponed to 2021 because of the pandemic.

Ahead of the G20 in Rome, where the countries involved confirmed their climate commitment against global warming, COP26 has just come into its own.

What is COP26?

For almost thirty years now, the UN has been bringing together the summits of almost every country in the world in Conferences of the Parties on climate, known as COPs. The COP26 is therefore the twenty-sixth world summit on climate, and is also known as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

That climate change has gone from being a concern to a real emergency capable of changing the global balance is unfortunately known. Among the prime ministers who came to Glasgow, Boris Johnson speaks of "one minute to zero time", while Draghi supports a "permanent campaign" of climate assessment.

It is now clear that the Earth cannot wait: COP26 is now one of the most important global summits ever, from whose tables may emerge choices and solutions capable of changing forever the fate of the planet.

The COP26 is also the venue for the 16th Conference of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions and the third Conference on the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit the increase in global temperature and thus combat the effects of climate change.

According to the Paris Agreement, the 183 countries that have agreed to sign the treaty must conduct reviews of their Paris commitments every five years.

This is called an "upward mechanism": each country is expected to present "improved" solutions and contributions during COP26 compared to the data from COP21, which took place in 2015 and led to the Paris Agreement. COP26 is therefore the first verification of climate commitments signed by the countries present in Paris.

Climate Commitment

The ultimate goals of COP26 were clarified by the president of the Conference, Alok Shama: in addition to compliance with what was signed in the Paris Agreement by individual countries, the Conference aims to increase the contributions determined by individual nations and give a direction to the future of the global industrial economy that is compatible with the health of the planet.

Among the goals of COP26 are to secure a $100 billion fund for developing countries, a goal that was supposed to be achieved as early as 2020, and to define Article 6 of the Paris Agreement - essentially the last remaining unwritten part of the Climate Agreement that will guide the steps of the world's greats.

Article 6 will bring together the operations that individual countries, on a voluntary basis, decide to put in place for international cooperation in the fight against climate change.

Already during the G20 meeting that preceded the Climate Conference, the representatives of the countries involved confirmed the planned ceiling for global warming, which cannot exceed 1.5 °C.

According to experts, ratifying the 1.5-degree ceiling at COP26 is of paramount importance: "we only have the last few years of the decade to make a major turnaround," says Christiana Figueres, who was president of the UN Climate Convention.

Global emissions currently stand at 40 billion tons of CO2. Maintaining the ceiling of 1.5°C means drastically decreasing emissions by 2030, at least by half.

In the meantime, to avert the energy crisis, China - responsible alone for almost 30% of global emissions - has increased coal production to over a million tons per day. And to say that in the same hours, in Glasgow, the world's great powers gathered to defend the climate are ratifying to disincentivize the use of fossil fuels.