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What is COP26?

A quick look at the UN climate summit in November – what it is, why it matters and how to get involved.

Written by Megan Hermes | 08 Sep 2021

Glasgow ( Stephen O'Donnell/Unsplash)

You may have read or heard about COP26, the UN climate talks coming up this November in Glasgow. People around the world are calling for this global summit to live up to its potential to be a huge milestone in tackling climate change.

Here’s a quick look at COP26 – what it is, why it matters and how you can get involved.

What is COP26? 

COP stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’, and it’s the United Nations’ annual summit on climate change. Governments of practically every country in the world, alongside other key figures, come together to make plans for tackling the climate crisis. 

This year’s summit is called COP26 because it’s the 26th time it’s been held. COP26 was initially scheduled for last year, but was postponed because of the pandemic. It will be held in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November. It’s a critical moment when countries must set goals, commit to bold climate action and stay accountable. As hosts, this is a huge opportunity for the UK to push for ambitious action.

Each day’s negotiations will focus on a different topic, including finance, energy, youth and public empowerment, nature and transport. You can find the details of the schedule, or the ‘Presidency programme’, on the COP26 website.

Why does COP26 matter?

The climate crisis is growing more urgent each day. We are on course for catastrophic global temperature rises that will put millions of lives at risk – and it’s the world’s poorest people who bear the brunt. This is not God’s plan. That’s a key reason why Christians should speak up on climate change.

COP26 is particularly significant because it’s the first time countries are obliged to lay out concrete plans for reaching the targets they set five years ago in the Paris Agreement, made at COP21 in 2015. The specific commitments that countries make to cut emissions are known as Nationally Defined Contributions, and these must be increased if the aims of the Paris Agreement are to be met. You can read more about this in our blog to mark the five-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement

What is Tearfund doing – and what can I do?

COP26 is a key focus of Tearfund’s Reboot campaign, which is pushing for decisive action to see a breakthrough in the climate crisis. Churches, communities and individuals across the UK are joining in prayer and action to call on the UK Government to build a greener, fairer world. Visit the Reboot campaign to find the latest way to add your voice. 

One thing you can do right now is register your interest for the COP26 Church Service, and speak with your church leaders to save the date of Sunday 7 November. Churches across the UK will be joining this inspiring climate-themed time of prayer and worship, and we hope yours will too.

During COP26, there are many ways you and your church can get involved, no matter where you are. Our new COP26 page will be updated regularly with the latest events and resources, so be sure to keep an eye on it. 

We strongly believe that prayer is crucial for bringing breakthrough in the climate emergency. You can sign up to receive prayer points focused on the climate emergency, direct to your phone via text message. We send updates every one to two weeks, and during COP26, we will send daily updates to pray over each day’s negotiations. Sign up by adding +44 (0)7916 874441 to your phone's contacts, and text us the word ‘PRAY’ on that number. Please visit our ‘Prayer for the climate’ page for more details.

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Written by  Megan Hermes

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