COP26 climate summit underway – what is it and what should you expect?

Weather

FILE – In this Aug. 17, 2021, file photo, embers light up hillsides as the Dixie Fire burns near Milford in Lassen County, Calif. World leaders have been trying to do something about climate change for 29 years but in that time Earth has gotten much hotter and more dangerous. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

(KXAN) — The annual Conference of Parties (COP) is currently being held for its 26th year in Glasgow, Scotland, beginning on Sunday and lasting through November 12. This event is attended by nearly 200 world leaders and high level government officials whose primary goal is to come together and advance their climate goals.

COP21 is when the Paris Climate Accord was adopted and the goal of meeting every five years was established. Last year’s meeting was postponed due to COVID-19, so COP26 is going to reconvene and review previous commitments set in 2015 and update these commitments based on new information, data and studies that have been released in the 6 years since COP21. These commitments are designated as NDCs, or Nationally Determined Contributions.

In addition to world leaders and senior government officials, media partners, businesses, academia, and nonprofit organizations will be in attendance.

COP26 is likely to be one of the most important summits in history since the most recent IPCC report issued dire warnings of “irreversible damage” to our planet and that humans are “unequivocally” to blame. The report also details that things like the melting of Greenland’s ice sheet is already “locked in” and will only continue to melt regardless of any actions taken in the foreseeable future.

We are to blame, but we also have the solutions to our problem. We just need our policymakers to come together and put people and legislation to work for us and the future generations of our world. This, ideally, will be one of the results from the summit.

The decisions that are made in the next two weeks will have lasting implications that could be the turning point towards slowing down the adverse effects of climate change like negative effects on human health, extreme weather events, and sea level rise.

According to Climate Central, an independent organization of scientists and journalists reporting on climate change, “today, the global average temperature sits at 1.26°C (2.27°F) higher than in 1850. And current stated policies put us on a path toward 2.6°C (4.7°F) of warming by 2100—overshooting the Paris Agreement goal of 2°C. This is why COP26 is so important. In order to reach our global goal, each country needs to continually adopt—and implement—more-ambitious emission-reduction plans.”

It is of critical importance that countries put their differences aside and work together on setting goals to combat climate change. But more importantly, take action on said goals so that we can look back and say we did everything we could, with the information at hand, to save the world.

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