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COP26 & Climate Change: What You Need to Know | Plant Based Ireland

What is it?

The conference of the parties, aka the United Nations Climate Change Conference, will be in Glasgow from Oct 31 – Nov 12. As the name suggests, this will be the 26th meeting, and 197 parties (mostly countries) will be in attendance. According to the BBC, there is added importance on this year after last year's was postponed during the pandemic and also coming after a year of unprecedented weather events: flooding in western Europe (killing at least 170 people) and China (displacing nearly 2m people), as well as the "heat dome" in Canada and the United States which is estimated to have killed around 1bn marine animals, not to mention a continued growth in wildfires.

 

Why does it matter?

This is the first time the parties will commit to new goals since the Paris Agreement 6 years ago. Decisions made during COP26 will have far-reaching effects. The stated aim is to 'secure global net-zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach’. This may be a tall task, given that that we are reportedly at 1.1C and are on course for 2.7C according to a United Nations' emissions report.

 

To do this, the COP is asking countries to 'come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reductions (NDC's) that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century. ‘The world needs to halve emissions over the next decade’ according to the COP26 website .

 

Smooth Sailing or Stormy Seas?

In the run-up to the conference, several countries have already raised protests over the wording of the most recent IPCC report. According to a BBC report, leaked documents have shown more than 32 000 submissions made by governments and big businesses. This includes submissions from Saudi Arabia asking to remove the strong language of the IPCC report and a senior Australian Government official rejecting the closures of coal-fired power plants as necessary. Brazil & Argentina, two of the largest global beef exporters, have also raised issues. They argue against the data presented by the IPCC that we need to reduce animal agriculture to meet our GHG emission targets.

 

What can you do about it?

We believe that everyone can and should get involved in the protection of the planet. By contacting the media and politicians, and sharing helpful information amongst your network, we can demand radical climate action today, not tomorrow. If you want to get involved, here are some things you can do:

 

- Write a letter to your TD
- Send a letter to the editor of your local paper
- Find an official event, march or protest
- Promote solutions on social media
- If you're a business owner, send a press release to your local paper

 

What do you think? Will COP26 make fundamental changes, or will it just be another round of empty promises?