UK COP26 Presidency reveals plans for a global net zero future ahead of the UN climate change conference
For close to thirty years the UN has brought together almost every country on earth for global climate summits. The 26th conference - known as COP26 - will take place in Glasgow with the UK as president.
COP26 aims to further the work established in COP21, otherwise known as the 2015 Paris summit, where every country agreed to aim to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees and reduce their emissions. However, the commitments made in Paris have not been sufficient to reach this target reduction by the ever looming 2030.
Hence the aims of COP26 are as follows:
- Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach: Countries are being asked to come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century.
- Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats: Countries need to protect and restore ecosystems whilst building defences, warning systems and resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and even lives.
- Mobilise climate finance: International financial institutions must play their part and nations must work towards unleashing the trillions in private and public sector finance required to secure global net zero.
- Work together to deliver: At COP26 the Paris Rulebook [the detailed rules that make the Paris Agreement operational] must be finalised and action accelerated to tackle the climate crisis through collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society.
Ahead of the November UN climate conference the UK Government has announced a new global project in order to envision a net zero future. On June 18, a new international collaboration called ‘Visions for a Net Zero Future’ was announced between businesses, academics and local citizens from all over the world to look at the innovations and approaches that could deliver a greener, carbon-neutral society. The project will develop six visions that each address these different regions around the world: the UK, Jamaica, Brazil, Kenya, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, and India.
The project will review matters such as electricity generation, agriculture, waste and water management, building design, reforestation and ocean conservation. It will exhibit the benefits of countries converting to net zero, including for health, economic growth, and security, and to create benefits including cleaner air, cheaper energy sources, green jobs, protected biodiversity, and safer communities.
UK Energy and Climate Change Minister, Anne-Marie Trevelyan commented: "This new flagship project brings together the best and brightest scientists with communities around the world, helping drive forward global efforts to tackle climate change by putting their voices at the heart of the green transition.
"The exciting visions developed through this science and innovation project will aim to inspire people across the globe ahead of COP26, improving our understanding of what net zero means for us all and the wide-ranging benefits of achieving it."
As The Times notes, The UK has achieved record clean growth in the last three decades with its economy growing by 78 per cent and emissions decreasing by 44 per cent which is a rapider reduction than any other G7 nation, proving climate change to be high on leadership agendas. The findings of the government-initiated project are set to be published in September 2021, acting as evidence-based insights that will support a solutions-focused COP26.