The Paris Agreement was drafted between November 20 and December 15, 2015, with 195 countries initially putting their name to it on April 22 the same year. It finally came into force on November 4, 2016.
A rearranged COP25 in 2019 hosted in Spain under the Presidency of Chile failed to achieve any significant progress other than a declaration of intent.
Countries had agreed to revisit or enhance their climate plans by 2020 but this conference in Scotland was postponed because of the global coronavirus pandemic,
Instead in 2020, the day after the Presidential Elections on November 4, the US made good a decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement altogether in a controversial move ordered by President Donald Trump on June 1, 2017.
The hope now is that a President elect in Joe Biden will not only reverse that decision but ensure the US will devote its resources and influence to help lead the world to a concerted effort to tackle the climate emergency.
It sets the stage for the rescheduled COP26 in Glasgow from November 1 to November 12, 2021, becoming the most significant in recent times.
And the possibility that like in Paris a new accord aligned with action on the climate emergency can be agreed.
The eyes of the world will be on your summit for 12 days in November, but the consequences of any decisions taken in Glasgow will last for decades to come.
This crucial UN summit is due to take place six years after over 190 governments signed the Paris Agreement. This accord bound signatories into policies to work towards keeping global temperature rises to below two degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels, and ideally within 1.5 degrees of pre-industrial levels. If the world goes above these temperatures, scientists predict that lives in under-developed countries around the world will be particularly severely affected.
Flooding, droughts, extreme heat and typhoons have brought devastation to these communities, but increasingly the effects of climate change are being felt on a more regular basis in areas which don’t have access to basic rights, such as to clean water supplies.
Climate change is being felt from Malawi to Ethiopia, Haiti and areas such as south-east Asia. These fragile communities are on the frontline of the environmental crisis. In the UK, people are routinely being driven from their homes and businesses by flooding of the likes seen in parts of Wales and the Midlands in early 2020.
In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provided further impetus for the work of the Paris Agreement. It said global temperature rises must be kept to 1.5 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels by 2030 or there would be potentially catastrophic consequences for the environment.
COVID-19 has shown the dangers of inaction and mixed messages by governments on public health. In Brazil, where there have been over 200,000 deaths from the virus and the US, where the death toll to date has topped 420,000.
There were emissions reductions of up to 30% in emissions after the world locked down last year, but CO2 polluting activities rebounded as countries attempt to restore their economies.
The pandemic showed how people and governments have the capability to reduce emissions from industry, aviation and ground-based transport and COVID-19 lessons should be applied now to avoid a similar situation involving climate change.
A successful COP26 will allow governments to concentrate on building back their nations as more sustainable through a just transition in terms of jobs as industries move away from traditional fossil fuel-based industries and agricultural practices become less polluting.
These young people cannot currently protest due to lockdowns, but that does not diminish their voices. If anything this makes them even important.
In the run up to the Glasgow summit, I would ask domestic politicians to highlight any lack of progress on climate change targets or any dilution of legislation to slow the pace of climate change.
This includes the UK Environment Bill, which is sadly now delayed by six months due to COVID-19.
The Scottish Government’s climate change legislation in 2019 showed the political will to reduce Scotland’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2045. It is backed up by the updated Climate Change Plan which lays out the polices to 2032. With the UK Government setting a target to achieve net-zero by 2050, the support must be given to people and businesses to make the transition to a low carbon economy in the coming years.
@EPSScotland is active and influential in the fields of air quality, land quality, noise and are at the fore of emerging environmental issues, including working towards sustainable development for a resilient Scotland.
It is safe to say rather a lot has happened in the 12 months since it was announced you’d be hosting COP26. When the climate summit does eventually take place, it will be in a world irrevocably altered and a global economy dramatically reshaped by COVID-19.
While the pandemic has battered the international marketplace, not all of its effects have been negative.
The need to avoid all non-essential travel during lockdown has sped up much-needed technological advancements, reshaped our working lives and benefitted the environment.
Previously, the daily commute to the office was a staple of working life and the need for face-to-face interaction with clients, especially to seal deals, seen as a necessity.
This step change in the way we do business is one we would like to see built on by COP26.
Charles Quinn, CCO, Commsworld
Fast forward from March 2020 to now, and technology allows us to work anywhere, meet anyone online and conduct business in a seamless fashion.
This way of working has drawn both Commsworld and our long-standing client Burness Paull together. Commsworld is the largest independent telecommunications provider in the UK, while Burness Paull LLP is a top tier independent Scottish law firm. Commsworld itself also has the perfect example of the benefits of working from anywhere. Our Commercial Director Andy Arkle now lives in Portugal, but thanks to Microsoft Cloud solutions, including Teams for meetings, he still works full-time for our company.
Meanwhile at Burness Paull, long-term investment in cloud-based technology has advanced the firm’s existing agile working opportunities, offered the ability to interact and secure deals online regardless of global location, and opened up access to a much broader pool of talent.
Such an approach has helped Burness Paull continue to grow as a truly international firm, accelerating an ongoing cultural shift to flexible working the firm had been focusing on for 12-24 months pre-pandemic and reducing unnecessary travel.
This step change in the way we do business is one we would like to see built on by COP26.
The opportunity is there to build a more internationalist approach to business through a global network of resilient, quality infrastructure – and likewise transforming the lives of workers around the globe.
Brave actions are needed. Such advances may result in a dramatic decline in travel. But the benefits must outstrip the negatives.
So both Commsworld and Burness Paull want to see technology front and centre of COP26. Lead from the front and have virtual conferences with the best minds in the room, albeit from a computer screen. Technology really can help us adapt, improve and live much better – as well have a positive impact for the good of the planet.
It’s time for everyone to embrace the next stage of the fourth industrial revolution.
Here’s to the future.
Charles Quinn, Chief Commercial Officer, Commsworld
@Commsworld is a leading UK Telecommunications Network Provider and ISP. They manage and control the largest privately funded Optical Core network in the UK.
The UK President of COP 26 Alok Sharma has held his first official meeting with US climate envoy John Kerry following America’s transition of government.
They discussed the ‘road to Glasgow’ just hours after US President Joe Biden re-committed the States to the terms of the Paris Agreement.
The hope is now Scotland can deliver a new accord, through the Glasgow Agreement.
In a Tweet, @AlokSharma_RDG said: “Great to speak with US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate @JohnKerry about the UK’s plans for #COP26“
In an official readout of the meeting issued later, the UK Government said Mr Sharma had congratulated Secretary Kerry on bringing the US back to the Paris Agreement yesterday, noting the great importance of the accord being fully universal again.
The statement said: “They agreed that there is no time to waste on tackling climate change. They noted that our two countries are once again tightly aligned in prioritising this shared challenge and will work together to raise global efforts ahead of COP26 in November.
“Mr Sharma said that, as hosts of COP26, the UK had sent a clear message to the world in setting an ambitious new Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in December and that he looked forward to seeing the US’s own ambitious NDC in the coming months.
“Mr Sharma and Secretary Kerry agreed on the particular importance of international climate finance, and for both the UK and the US to work closely with countries who are especially vulnerable to climate change. They also noted the encouraging growth in the shift to renewable energy across the world.
“The pair agreed that their respective officials should work together closely. They looked forward to speaking regularly in the run up to G7 and COP26, and to meeting in person at the soonest possibility.”
Just a few hours earlier Mr Kerry express his relief at rejoining the Paris Agreement having committed the US to it in the first place.
He said: “Today, @POTUS rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement, restoring America’s credibility and commitment — setting a floor, not a ceiling, for our climate leadership. Working together, the world must and will raise ambition.
“It’s time to get to work – the road to Glasgow begins here.”
In a final Tweet from his personal account before taking up the user name @ClimateEnvoy, he added: “I hope you’ll follow me there and join me on the road to Glasgow.”
And there it was. In just 495 characters President Joe Biden signed the US back up to the Paris Agreement climate accord.
I, Joseph R. Biden Jr., President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the Paris Agreement, done at Paris on December 12, 2015, do hereby accept the said Agreement and every article and clause thereof on behalf of the United States of America.
Done at Washington this 20th day of January, 2021.
JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR.
It was notable that it became one of only three executive orders signed in front of the world’s media suggesting he intends for the US to play a leading role.
During the first White House press briefing of the new Biden administration, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said it was part of an effort to “rebuild” relations with other countries around the world.
I live in Dunblane, Scotland and published my first book – Carbon Choices on the solutions to climate change in 2020. I have been aware of the serious implications of climate change for 30 years, ever since studying geography and glaciers as a geography student.
I made a mid-career change from accountant to sustainable development and now work as an Energy Specialist. However, I was still frustrated that so few people were aware of, and taking action on climate change.
When I heard that Glasgow was to host COP26 it propelled me to write a book on the common sense solutions to our climate and nature crises.
I want COP 26 to be the turning point, the tipping point for governments, business and citizens.
For governments to submit radical plans to decarbonise their economies. For businesses to take action to reduce their emissions and to offer consumers better choices.
For individuals to put pressure on government and businesses, but also to take their own personal action.
And, a final wish, for nature loss – and restoration – to be given as much prominence as climate change.
Carbon Choices is described as a book about the psychology that drives us to buy more ‘stuff’ and whether or not this makes us happier, and looks at the ten ‘building blocks’ to build sensible climate change solutions. It is available here.
What will world leaders make of Denmark’s plan to end oil exploration in a bid to reduce the nation’s carbon output at least 70% by 2030?
“We are going to spend billions of euros on economic recovery in Europe and if we are smart and invest in green infrastructure and energy efficiency, something good can actually come of this,” Danish Climate Minister Dan Jorgensen said.
The FT, meanwhile, predicts European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde will slash its purchase of bonds issued by fossil fuel companies and other heavy carbon emitters as it looks to become a pioneer in fighting climate change.
They should be mindful. Writing for The Wire Science Jag Bhalla reports that 1300 climate crisis cases have been brought against governments, companies and other entities over the last year of so in a new front demanding action.
Something the SNP government in Scotland is similarly being challenged on after it published an updated climate plan in the run up to COP26.
Scottish Greens environment spokesperson Mark Ruskell is quoted by The Herald: “The Scottish Government’s climate plan made some good noises, but now we need to see those pledges reflected in budget decisions.
“We need more commitment on a transition from oil and gas and on creating green jobs. We simply don’t have time to wait for undeveloped technologies, this is the year where we need to step up the pace of change.
“Let Scotland grasp the opportunity that the COP conference presents to show real leadership in protecting our future.”
She writes: ‘The success of COP26 relies not merely on Glasgow’s ability to host a major summit, or on the Scottish Government delivering on its pledges, but on the behaviour of the biggest global players.’
CityAM was among the first to report that UK business minister Alok Sharma had offered to resign from his role in order to fully concentrate on preparing for the UK’s chairmanship of COP26.
It cames amid speculation former Tory Prime Minister David Cameron was being lined up to take on the event presidency instead.
It says: ‘2021 is the last chance to agree new governance arrangements. With the key asks for just carbon markets already articulated in the San Jose principles, there is a possibility that this could be the year that substantial money is committed to climate finance. Certainly, manoeuvring on the issue will be key for 2021s climate diplomacy.’
We must understand that we are all responsible for one another. It’s not enough to cling to outdated and disproven ideas that if we act in our own self-interest that the world’s problems will fix themselves.
We don’t feel the impact of our individual actions when we buy a diesel-hungry car, eat that bit of steak or buy single-use plastics.
The impact is too convoluted, too distant, too disconnected from the immediacy of our choices for it to directly change our behaviours. Instead we need to change our entire perspective and we need our leaders and the COP26 summit to state this unequivocally.
We are all connected, we are one family and the Earth is our shared home.
Our individual actions today affect everyone on this planet now and everyone who will exist on it. It is okay for some of us to shoulder more of the burden if we are capable of doing so to ensure the survival of our unique planet and species, and because it is a joy to be of service to this world.
This is not a negotiation with winners and losers, we will win together or lose together.
Blazing Griffin is a BAFTA-winning Glasgow-based digital entertainment company which specialises in telling stories across a wide range of platforms and mediums with a specific focus on video game development, film and TV development and production and post production services.
Calls for action on tackling climate change tends to focus on the active – commuting, how we travel, what cars we use, what carbon footprint we leave.
But what type of homes we live in and whether they help or hinder our efforts to reach net-zero carbon emissions receive much less attention and debate.
That is why COP26 must devote as much time as possible to finding innovative solutions that will address this climate ‘elephant in the room’.
I am joint managing director of Newton Property Management, headquartered in Glasgow, and one of Scotland’s biggest factors with further offices in Aberdeen and Inverness. We provide factoring services to more than 25,000 properties nationwide.
The issue of climate change and how to make our homes more environmentally sustainable has long been on Newton’s agenda. Last year we launched our 2020 Green Vision, leading the charge to see Scotland embrace a more sustainable environmentally-friendly future.
It was an industry first, and was born from the fact that we at Newton want to see our customers’ homes fully fitted out in a way that makes a big contribution to meeting Scotland’s net-zero carbon targets.
That means embracing solar power, future-proofing properties, providing plenty of charging points for electric vehicles, even planting indigenous trees and shrubs in and around developments.
For example, Scotland is set to ban sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2032 – with only battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles allowed.
So Newton has and continues to install electric vehicle charging points at our customers’ developments, co-funding tree planting, and introducing other green initiatives which our customers would like to adopt.
We are proud of our 2020 Green Vision – and it’s certainly been noticed. We were proud winners of The Herald Scotland ‘Green Family Business of the Year’ Award in 2019 and also finalists in the Homes for Scotland Awards this year.
But we are conscious a lot more needs to be done. So Newton is hoping to see clear, decisive action at COP26, encouraging property managers like us to do even more.
Whether it is better insulation, more access to renewable sources of energy provision, access to smarter technology in the homes – we want dynamic, innovative solutions to encourage us to be more progressive and productive and do our bit for our country and planet.
So over to you COP26. We’re ready to listen and willing to learn.
The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference – also known as COP26 – takes place between November 1 and November 12, 2021, in Glasgow, Scotland.
It has been delayed from its scheduled date of November 9 – 19, 2020, because of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The eyes of the globe will be upon them in the hope that, as with the Paris Agreement, that they can strike an accord to accelerate action and work together to overcome the greatest challenge the planet has ever faced.
If this can be done, it would become The Glasgow Agreement.
COP 26 GLASGOW PRESIDENCY
The Presidency of Cop 26 is currently held by the UK Government but it is being co-hosted with Italy.
Alok Sharma , the UK Government’s Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will act as President for the conference.
On being appointed he said: “It is a great honour to take on the role of COP26 President.
“I have started working with my new team ahead of the summit in Glasgow (this November) where we aim to speed up the global journey to net zero carbon.
“We will be building on efforts to urge all countries to bring forward ambitious plans to curb their emissions ahead of the event itself.
“It is vital everyone comes together to deliver the change needed to tackle climate change and protect our planet.”
Alok Sharma, President, COP26
However his leadership sparked some early controversy when it was revealed his top team would contain no women in it.
That announcement came after a row was sparked when the former head of the summit Claire O’Neill was dismissed from the role.
She later claimed that the UK Prime Minister Biros Johnson ‘didn’t get’ climate change and that the nation was ‘miles off’ target.
SCOTLAND’S ROLE AT COP 26
Preparations for the event got off to a further rocky start when it was claimed the UK Government wanted to move the conference from Glasgow to a venue in England in what was dubbed a turf war over who would host the event.
It included a row over the Scottish Government booking out the SEC campus in Glasgow before the UK government who had wanted to use it themselves.
Ministers and officials on bother sides of the border worked to diffuse the differences which had threatened to overshadow the planned focus.
Political observers wait to see what role – if any – the UK government may ask Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to play.
The conference will take place after the forthcoming summer Scottish Parliamentary Elections which could further ignite calls for Scottish independence, potentially putting further strain on Westminster and Holyrood relations.
But since then both governments have stressed their commitments to both the event and tackling the climate emergency, raising hopes that their could be some breakthrough collaborations.
WHAT WILL BE DISCUSSED AT COP 26 IN GLASGOW
All those signatories to the Paris Agreement had agreed to further review and enhance their climate commitments by 2020.
This will be the first major opportunity to scrutinise those commitments after the planned date for COP26 was postponed by a year to 2021 because of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Talks will include reducing harmful greenhouse gas emission with a focus on things such as energy, pollution and agriculture.
Mitigating climate through mass tree planting, peatland restorations, architecture, transitioning form oil and gas and electric transport will feature.
Food security and production will also be high on the agenda along with how to protect island nations from rising sea levels.