What is the COP26 Climate Summit

What is the global summit all about and why you should be paying more attention

Climate change is no secret, and many including Canadians have begun to experience its effects. Extreme weather events, such as wildfires, heatwaves, and flooding are intensifying worldwide and have impacted the lives of many.

COP26 is a summit in which governments are discussing ways in which climate change could be slowed or mitigated through efforts put forth by world powers.

At COP26, 200 governments were called upon to reveal their plans to cut emissions by the year 2030. Those same governments had already agreed back in 2015 to make changes to keep global warming well below 2° C in order to avoid climate catastrophe. They agreed to do this by way of what is known as the Paris Agreement, in which countries pledged to keep cutting emissions until net zero is met by all in agreeance by 2050.

Although the initial days at the COP26 climate conference were met with what some have critiqued as pomp and shallow promises, a flurry of new announcements has taken place.

More than 100 world leaders have promised to tackle deforestation, an extremely important initiative considering forests are ‘carbon sinks’ and absorb vast amounts of CO2. Similar plans have been put forward before but have been underfunded, this time around money is a non-issue.

More than 100 countries pledged to join a scheme to cut methane by 30% by 2030, although big methane emitters such as China, Russia, and India have yet to join.

More than 40 countries agreed to shift away from coal, one of the biggest contributors to climate change, but just as with methane, big emitters such as Australia, India, China, and the US have yet to agree.

450 organizations who control around 40 per cent of private assets globally or $130 trillion dollars in total agreed to back clean technologies such as renewable energy.

In the coming days, negotiators at the conference will haggle over each word within every line of an agreement that will undoubtedly shape how nations report progress in terms of cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Soon, an agreement will be met and it will then be clear what we can actually do together to combat the effects of climate change.