COP26: to accelerate compliance with the Paris agreement on climate change

Elena Martín Cuesta

21 Oct, 2021


From October 31 to November 12, the 26th Annual United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), organized by the United Kingdom in collaboration with Italy, will be held at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow.

Initially, this event should have been held in 2020, but the COP Bureau decided to postpone it due to the exceptional circumstances generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, the last Conference of this nature organized so far is the one held in Madrid during the first days of December 2019. After two years without climate negotiations at the international level, it has been decided to develop it now face-to-face, despite the health situation remains complicated.

COP is the acronym of the “Conference of the Parties”, an event that annually brings together 196 countries plus the European Union, i.e. the signatory parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) signed in 1994.

Certainly, its most famous and influential edition is the COP21 held in France in 2015. There, the so-called “Paris Agreement” was adopted, a commitment, legally binding and signed by almost all parties, which set specific targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale in to limit the increase in the planet’s average temperature and the impacts of climate change.

The Agreement runs in a five-year cycle, periods in which the targets and actions to be taken by the signatories become increasingly ambitious.

In 2020, national targets set by the parties were to be announced to verify the measures put in place to reduce emissions and adapt to the evolution of the adverse impacts of climate change. Parties were also expected to set out their long-term strategies to achieve full decarbonization of their economies by 2050.

COP26 Objectives

The overall objective of COP26 is to reach agreements on how to accelerate the actions needed to meet the Paris Agreement, review what has been achieved so far and define additional targets to be met.
In addition, COP26 Chair Alok Sharma, a British Member of Parliament, intends that other related objectives be taken on board, including:

  • 01

    Reinforce the objective of reducing the average temperature of the planet by 1.5oC, ensuring the achievement of ``net zero emissions`` in 2050. To this end, member countries should establish an intermediate deadline for mitigating emissions by 2030, for which they would have to abandon the use of coal as soon as possible, reduce deforestation, accelerate electric mobility and promote investment in renewable energies.

  • 02

    Protect and restore ecosystems and natural habitats, and build defenses, warning systems, and resilient infrastructure and agriculture to prevent the loss of homes, livelihoods, and even lives in communities affected by climate change.

  • 03

    Mobilize climate policy finance to help developing countries reduce fossil fuel emissions and adapt to the impacts of the crisis, fostering a transition to an increasingly low-carbon economy.

  • 04

    To foster collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society with the common goal of accelerating the actions needed to address the climate crisis.

Official conference and side events

The official COP discussions take place within a specially designated area, where party delegates meet for both formal negotiations and more informal consultations.

Representatives of civil society, organizations and the media may be present, but attendance within this area is strictly controlled.

In addition, other public activities related to the objectives of the Conference, such as workshops or presentations, are held around the Conference.

Técnicas Reunidas will participate in one of these parallel events, as a member of the Spanish Green Growth Group (GECV), an association created to promote public-private collaboration in order to jointly advance in the solution of environmental challenges and which is made up of more than 50 Spanish companies.

The event, to be held at Scottish Power’s headquarters in Glasgow, will launch the Best Practice Guide for Business Climate Action Plans entitled “Guide of Best Practices for Climate Action Plans towards Net Zero”. This document, prepared by the GECV Climate Policy working group, brings together various initiatives to drive emissions reductions and decarbonization in companies and proposes the development of long-term Climate Action Plans in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Carbon neutrality

” Net zero” or carbon neutrality means that the amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted into the atmosphere is no greater than the amount that is removed from it.

To achieve this ambitious goal, both countries and companies must apply natural methods, such as planting new forests to remove as much carbon as they emit, or using technologies known as “carbon capture and storage” (CCS), which involves removing carbon at the source of emissions before it can enter the atmosphere.

Forests and vegetation function as carbon sinks. They have the capacity to absorb carbon present in the atmosphere and incorporate it into their structure through photosynthesis, thus storing carbon that would otherwise be free in the atmosphere.

In turn, carbon capture and storage technologies make it possible to separate the carbon dioxide emitted by industry and power generation plants in their combustion processes and transport it to a geological storage site to isolate it from the atmosphere in the long term.

Finally, it should be noted that, even if emissions are reduced as much as possible, some emissions are difficult to avoid, so they have to be offset by removing carbon from the atmosphere.

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