What Is COP26 And Why Should I Care?


Extreme heat and air pollution, floods and insane weather are just some of the reasons to stop climate change, but the good news is we have the first agreement in history addressing coal and fossil fuel emissions – the main causes of climate change.

Cop26 matters because it is the conference where the world decides on how to address climate change. Anyone who breathes should care about it.

The Glasgow Climate Pact is not legally binding i.e. no one goes to jail or pays a fine if they don’t do what they have agreed to do. But the agreement is still important as it sets the world agenda on climate change for the next ten years.

Photo by Markus Spiske via Pexels

What was agreed?

For the first time at a Cop conference, world leaders have agreed to reduce the use of coal – coal is climate change’s super nemesis and is responsible for 40% of CO2 emissions per year.

Countries have also pledged to further cut CO2 emissions to keep temperature rises within 2.4C.

The initial goal was to keep temperature rises within 1.5C, but India, as a poor country, would struggle to commit to higher reductions and asked for the wording to be changed from “phase out” coal to “phase down”. The loosening up of the wording brought Cop26’s president, Alok Sharma to tears.

Richer countries did not reach last year’s goal to provide $100bn a year but have discussed providing a trillion dollar a year fund from 2025.

Another highlight is the pledge to phase-out subsidies that manipulate the price of coal, oil or natural gas, although there was no date set for that.

Most of what is agreed at Cop will be self-policed but a few countries have made their pledges legally binding.

What is Cop26?

Cop stands for Conference of the Parties. It is a yearly meeting of world government representatives to agree on a collective response to the climate emergency. This is Cop’s 26th year and it is part of an international treaty called the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC. According to the UNFCCC, all countries on Earth are bound to “avoid dangerous climate change” and to find ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally and equitably.


The conference opened officially on 31 October, a year after what was planned due to covid, and ended on 14 November, two days later than planned.


More than 120 world leaders have attended, besides activists, scientists and celebrities. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US president Joe Biden, former US president Barack Obama, activist Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough are some of the many important people to attend this year. Usually, presidents come in, make a speech and leave their representatives to handle negotiations.


Cop conferences happen in various regions to ensure that everyone is represented. It has been hosted in Copenhagen, Kyoto, Marrakesh, Lima and Durban, and next year, it will be in Egypt.

The moral of the story is that climate change is a big issue and we should all care about it. But it is not helpful to lose sleep over it. The best way to start helping is to take care of yourself and start learning more about it. More importantly, remember you need laughter and fun!

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