Home Countdown to the COP26 Climate Summit
Numerology is a fun parlour game and ascribing meanings to numbers that appear not to be random demonstrates our brains’ propensity to seek out a pattern even when there isn’t one. Saying that, the number 26 has various significant meanings.
In mathematics, it’s the only number between a square (52) and a cube (33). In science, it’s the atomic number of iron, the most abundant element, by mass, in the Earth. In sports, it’s the number of complete miles in a marathon. And in sustainability it calls to mind the ISO 26000 standard on social responsibility for businesses and organizations committed to operating in a socially responsible way.
However, I am sure that when asked these days what the connection is between the number 26 and sustainability, most people would refer to the forthcoming “COP26”.
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For almost 30 years, the United Nations has gathered almost every country on Earth for a series of global climate summits called COPs, or Conference of the Parties.
In partnership with Italy, the United Kingdom will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties, or COP26 for short, in Glasgow from October 31 until November 12, 2021. This will be the most significant meeting since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, establishing a global objective to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius with efforts to keep as close to 1.5 C as possible.
In the run up to COP26, there is a series of events that have already started, as well as publications tackling sustainability and exploring challenges, opportunities and inspirational stories, also from across the global energy and chemical science community.
Regarding events, already today the “Towards COP26 Conference” begins, where the global, European and Mediterranean associations of electricity transmission systems and grid operators join forces to organise a global online conference to debate the role of electricity grids in enabling the fast-paced and unprecedented energy transition, which is needed to meet net-zero emissions by 2050.
As far as publications go, multi-energy company TotalEnergies contributes to the energy transition discussion with two new documents – “Energy Landscape” and the “TotalEnergies Energy Outlook 2021” – aiming to provide a better understanding of the global energy system. The documents equally provide insights into the climate challenges and the progress needed to ensure a supply of energy that is affordable, reliable and as carbon-free as possible to limit global warming and also integrate net-zero pledges unveiled by several countries.
COP26 is also the 16th meeting of the parties to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the third meeting of the parties to the Paris Agreement (COP21). But it’s the first time that parties are expected to commit to enhanced ambitions since COP21, as they are required to carry out every five years a process colloquially known as the “ratchet mechanism,” as outlined in the Paris Agreement.
Under the framework of the Paris Agreement, countries submitted intended nationally determined contributions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared with a business-as-usual scenario. And each country was expected to submit enhanced nationally determined contributions every five years to ratchet up ambitions to mitigate climate change.
When the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015 at COP21, the conference of 2020 was actually set to be the first iteration of the ratchet mechanism. Even though the 2020 conference was postponed until 2021 for COP26 due to the pandemic, dozens of countries had still not updated their pledges by the time of the planning of the 2021 conference.
However, 11 days still to go!
So let us just hope that in terms of sustainability and climate protection, COP26 will not end as a “Cop Killer” (an Italian crime movie from 1983. And you thought I’d forgotten a movie reference).