What does COP26 mean? Meaning of the name of Glasgow climate change conference, what will happen - and what the letters stand for

The world’s leaders will meet in Glasgow this autumn for the COP26 summit – here’s what it is and what it’s about.

The eyes of the world will be on Glasgow this November, when leaders from 196 countries and around 20,000 delegates arrive in Scotland for a major environmental summit.

They are expected be joined on the banks of the River Clyde for COP26 by the Queen, Pope Francis and campaigner Greta Thunberg for the first event of its kind since COP25 took place in Madrid in December 2019.

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It will come just months after the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change described global warming as a "code red for humanity" and is being seen as a major landmark by politicians and environmental campaigners alike.

Here’s what we know.

What does COP26 mean?

What does COP26 stand for? Picture: Mark HallWhat does COP26 stand for? Picture: Mark Hall
What does COP26 stand for? Picture: Mark Hall

COP stands for Conference of the Parties, with the parties in question being the countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1994. The treaty marked the start of a concerted international effort to combat global warming.

The 2021 meeting will be the 26th meeting of the countries, which is why it's called COP26.

When is COP26? Here's what COP26 means, when it starts and what will happen at the Glasgow climate conferenceWhen is COP26? Here's what COP26 means, when it starts and what will happen at the Glasgow climate conference
When is COP26? Here's what COP26 means, when it starts and what will happen at the Glasgow climate conference

When is COP26?

COP26 will take place at Glasgow’s Scottish Events Campus – home of the Hydro, SECC and Armadillo buildings – in the shadow of the Finnieston Crane from November 1-12.

It was originally scheduled to take place from November 9-19, 2020, but was delayed due to the global pandemic.

Police Scotland has said that the conference will be "the most complex and complicated" event ever staged in Scotland – with 10,000 officers from across the UK being deployed each day.

What will happen at COP26?

The summit can be broadly split into three different sections.

Firstly, negotiations will take place between countries and experts about the best way to combat global warming, hopefully thrashing out an agreement that will reduce the amount of greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere by 2030.

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Secondly, there will be a series of exhibitions and fringe events for delegates to attend.

Finally, there will be a series of climate talks and events held around Glasgow for the general public to attend.

What will be discussed at COP26?

Delegates will discuss whether the world is on target to keep global temperature increases “well below” 2C, and try to limit them to 1.5C, which countries signed up to at 2015's landmark Paris climate agreement.

Many scientists believe that temperature increases are currently set to reach 3C.

Steps to be discussed could include ending the use of coal, stopping deforestation, switching to electric vehicles, investing in renewable energy, and how to help poorer countries do their part.

The ultimate goal is to achieve a "net zero" position - where no more greenhouse gasses are going into the atmosphere than are removed - by 2050.

What will be the impact on Glasgow?

A total of 25,000 people are expected to attend the conference, with up to 14,000 there at any one time.

GetReadyGlasgow said the event’s scale was “unprecedented in the UK” with nearly 200 nations and 120 heads of state due to attend.

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A series of maps have been published showing the major disruption that is expected to hit travel in Glasgow, with much of the city at risk of severe congestion on the busiest days.

Thousands of protesters are also expected in the city, including home insulation campaigners Insulate Britain, who halted traffic on the M25 twice recently.

Police have warned protesters not to block motorways, which could make travel delays even worse.

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