What are the goals of COP26? Purpose of Glasgow climate change conference - and how it relates to Paris Agreement and UN Framework

The landmark climate conference has a series of key goals that it aims to fulfil.

As natural disasters become more common and warnings about climate change become more urgent, discussion around the future of the global climate crisis will soon take place in Glasgow at COP26.

More than 100 world leaders and thousands of attendees are expected to flock to the Scottish city for the first event of its like since COP25 in Madrid in 2019.

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With so many different voices vying to be heard and all eyes on the conference to see what’s decided, the UN has laid out clear plans for what is to be discussed and hopefully achieved.

The UK COP26 Presidency has laid out four crucial goals for the upcoming climate event in Glasgow, COP26. Photo: JPI Media.

Here is all you need to know about the goals of COP26 and what it is hoped the event will accomplish.

What is COP26?

COP26 is a global climate summit, bringing together some of the most influential and powerful leaders and activists from around the world.

Organised by the UN, the event is expected to attract 20,000 delegates, including household names like Greta Thunberg and Sir David Attenborough.

Coming just a few short months after the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warning that global warming has become a "code red for humanity", climate change has never been a more urgent problem.

For such a landmark event, the goals need to be clearly laid out in advance.

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What are the goals of COP26?

The four key aims of COP26 have been clearly laid out by the UK COP26 Presidency on the event website:

- Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach.

- Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats, specifically by protecting and restoring ecosystems and building defences, warning systems and resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods, and even lives.

- Mobilise at least $100bn (£74bn) in climate finance per year.

- Work together to deliver on these goals by finalising the Paris Rulebook and accelerating climate action.

All four of these aims require countries and activists to come to COP26 with ideas and solutions for how they can be achieved.

How does COP26 relate to the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework?

Many of these aims take their lead from the Paris Agreement in 2015.

For example, limiting the global temperature rise to just 1.5 degrees, the first aim from above, was first laid out in the Paris Agreement six years ago.

This international treaty covered many of the same topics as COP26 will, including climate change mitigation, adaptation, and finance.

As of July of this year, 191 members of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) had signed the treaty.

Although the Agreement was first praised by politicians and world leaders, climate activists have regularly pointed out since that it was insufficiently binding, with no set measures in place to force countries to lower their emissions, for example.

Some hope that COP26 is an opportunity to reinforce the measures laid out by the Paris Agreement in a more compelling way.

However, still others, including youth activist Ms Thunberg, have suggested that COP26 is another empty gesture from world leaders.

It remains to be seen how well the aims for COP26 will end up being addressed and if the effects of the conference will be stark enough to convince critics.

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