Introducing: The Road to COP 26

A green park in Glasgow, where COP 26 will take place to coordinate countries on the most effective actions to reverse climate change.
Photo by Phil Reid on Unsplash.

The Road to COP26 is a series of articles exploring the impact that COP26 will have on the future climate. This first article in the series gives an overview of COP26’s history and mission.

COP 26 in Glasgow is taking place in November 2021, just six months from now. It’s a global summit where leaders from almost every country on Earth gather to review progress made in cutting emissions, and ensure that climate targets are met. The first summit was held in Bonn, Germany in 1995, 26 years ago and has been taking place every year since then. At Normative we help companies reduce their climate impact with our emission accounting engine. We therefore follow the COP closely and have found out that to many, the COP is still a black box. Therefore we decided to write a series of articles to help you gain a better understanding of the summit, as we count down to COP 26. 

But how did COP come to life?

The greenhouse effect is a process that causes our planet’s surface to heat up. The greenhouse effect is caused by the increased concentration of greenhouse gases, such as CO2 and methane, in the atmosphere. These gases trap the energy that radiates from the sun, heating the atmosphere that surrounds the planet. 

The greenhouse effect has been known for a very long time. It was first theorized in the 1800s, and it was quantified for the first time by Svante Arrhenius in 1896. Climate science and methodology has since then been perfected, but it was only recently that climate change entered the public discourse.

During the 1980’s, scientists progressively agreed that the Earth’s atmosphere was warming due to the greenhouse effect. 1988 was a landmark year for climate awareness, as the NASA scientist James Hansen testified to the American congress about the critical consequences that man-made global warming could cause.

One year later, in 1989, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established under the United Nations. The IPCC provided a scientific view of climate change and its socio-economic impacts, and it is still the most respected source of climate science.

Given that every country on the planet was affected by global warming, a collective effort was needed to curb continued carbon emissions. COP, or Conference of the Parties, was first created in 1995 to coordinate climate action across the world’s countries, ensuring that the global temperature increase would stay below 1.5 degree Celsius.

COP 26 in Glasgow will be crucial to accelerate global climate action. As the world’s largest economies invest massive amounts of public money to fuel recovery, steering these investments towards sustainable solutions will prove decisive for the future of the planet.  

But no country will be able to reverse climate change on its own. International collaboration will be crucial to achieve net zero emissions in time, as we discuss in the next article of “The road to COP 26” series. 

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