COP26 was due started this week - here's what's happening instead

The UN's 26th climate conference - COP26 - should have begun in Glasgow this week. With the event postponed by 12 months due to Covid-19, edie explores the events keeping the international climate conversation going.

COP26 is widely regarded to be the most important UN climate conference since the Paris Agreement was ratified in 2015. At the event, nations committed to the Accord will be required to update their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). They will also be considering the implications of the IPCC’s landmark report on climate change, which outlined the stark differences between the Agreement’s 2C and 1.5C trajectories.

In late 2019, when it was confirmed that the UK would host COP26 and Italy would take on the pre-conference events, the momentum behind the event seemed unstoppable – even if questions were raised about the UK’s ability to plan in time amid Brexit and the general election.

But Covid-19 has affected all parts of the economy and the practicalities of day-to-day activities we took for granted. As such, the COP26 Secretariat took the decision to postpone the conference by a full 12 months.

The decision was widely welcomed across the green economy. While some expressed concerns about the closing window of time left to deliver a net-zero world, the general mood was one of understanding and support. Moreover, many organisations have put together their own events designed to keep climate action on the international and business agenda until November 2021. Here, edie rounds up some of the discussions, debates and actions that are taking place during the original COP26 schedule.

The Race to Zero Dialogues – 9 November to 19 November

The UK will host a COP26 “launchpad” event on 12 December to mark the five-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement. Ahead of this event, and in preparation for the UNFCCC’s Climate Dialogues later this month, the ‘Race to Zero’ global campaign team has organised nine days of high-level discussions between world leaders, trade bodies and NGOs.

The dialogues will cover best-practice advice for policymakers looking to decarbonise the hardest-to-abate sectors, including transport, heavy industry and heat. They will also provide an overview of the current state of water stewardship, marine conservation and nature-based solutions. Broader topics – including the impact of climate change on human health and the urgency of transforming financial systems – are on the agenda, too.  

The Youth Climate Summit - 9 November to 13 November

The new generation of climate activism is being driven by young people. Since Greta Thunberg first staged a one-woman protest outside the Swedish parliament in 2018, Fridays for Future and School Strike for Climate have become global movements.

It is hardly surprising, then, that Gen Z are behind several of the climate-related events and campaigns taking place this month. The Youth Climate Summit is being coordinated by Global Action Plan and the London Schools Eco-Network. It will help primary and secondary teachers and their classes connect with other schools across the UK to discuss topics including nature conservation and restoration; pollution and waste management; food and farming and fashion and consumer behaviour.

Mock COP – 19 November to 1 December

Mock COP26 has been organised by hundreds of student activists from across the world and its ultimate aim is to develop a legal treaty that national governments can agree upon. Delegates will voice their concerns and demands on issues including green jobs, sustainability education and ecological literacy, which will help experts at ClientEarth to produce this document.

COP26 champion and former We Mean Business lead Nigel Topping will deliver a keynote speech at the closing ceremony. Students from 145 nations will hand him the final Mock COP26 statement that outlines what the they want Governments to do at COP26.

The ClientEarth Summit – 9 November to 11 November

Environmental law firm ClientEarth hasn’t hosted a summit before but many of us will be familiar with its work. It has won three air pollution cases against the UK Government; assisted with the campaign to get the European Investment Bank to transition away from fossil fuels and opposed plans for a major new UK gas plant on climate grounds.

The organisation hopes its event will give a platform to a diverse array of individuals and organisations working collectively to deliver a sustainable future. Topics up for discussion include Scope 3 emissions, supply chain engagement and how best to support the communities most affected by climate change.

Net-Zero Live 2020 – 10 November to 12 November

Of course, we have to mention that edie’s Net-Zero Live, hosted in association with EDF Energy, is taking place this week. The three-day event is free to attend and will take place virtually for the first time, convening sustainability, energy and CSR experts from across the world on the shared journey to net-zero.

Over the course of the event, attendees will explore the practicalities of accelerating climate action, the state of play in the circular economy discussion and what the next generation of sustainable business leadership will look like. Our line-up of expert speakers are representing organisations including the Committee on Climate Change, Unilever, Ikea and Dentsu International.

View the full agenda and register here.

Edie staff



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