UN Climate Change Conference Sets Out Future Sustainability Goals

By Isla Patrick

Local News Editor

The UK hosted the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12. World leaders, government representatives, negotiators, and citizens arrived in the city to attend 12 days of discussion on how to slow the impact of climate change and form a global plan to meet net-zero emissions by the middle of this century.

This year’s COP was unlike any before it. To achieve their goals, Glasgow looked back to 2015, where the Paris Agreement emerged from France’s COP21. At this conference, every country present agreed to limit the increase in global temperatures to two degrees celsius, although most made a goal of reducing climate change to only 1.5 degrees. Under the terms of the agreement, leaders revealed their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) — their projected emission reductions. World leaders determined that they would revisit their NDCs every five years, meaning COP26 is the first conference where countries will present new estimations for their emissions. According to the summit’s organizers, “as momentous as Paris was, countries must go much further… COP26 needs to be decisive.”

On the conference’s Finance Day, where attendees discussed the funding needed to reduce emissions, the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero revealed that the 130 trillion dollar contributions of 450 global business firms would allow countries to meet the terms set in the Paris Agreement. Mark Carney, the UN Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance, stated, “up until today there was not enough money in the world to fund the transition. The 130 trillion dollars is more than is needed for the net-zero transition globally.” 

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers a speech during the COP26 Summit.

Glasgow encouraged countries to halt their emissions by gradually phasing out coal usage, ending deforestation, switching to electric vehicles, and investing in renewable forms of energy. However, reducing emissions can only succeed in slowing down climate change, not permanently reversing it. To combat inevitable damage due to warming temperatures, the COP26 aimed to hold developed countries responsible by requiring them to contribute 100 billion dollars in climate finance per year. Leaders intend to put this funding towards the restoration and protection of existing ecosystems.

To further increase incentives, Britain released a statement describing their national economic growth in relation to steadily decreasing emission levels, claiming, “between 1990 and 2019… our economy grew by 78% and our emissions decreased by 44%.” Additionally, the conference’s host country boasts its status as the largest producer of wind energy in the world and the first major economy to ensure net-zero emissions by 2050. In preparation for COP, Britain promised to end government support of overseas fossil fuel industries, contribute 11.6 billion pounds yearly to developing nations’ climate efforts, remove petrol and diesel cars from the roads by 2030, and plant 30,000 hectares of trees by 2025.

The US, the world’s second-largest emitter, ensured a 50% cut in emissions by 2030, but did not pledge any new policies to aid in the transition to net-zero. To meet the terms of the Paris Agreement, Congress must pass new legislation to set the country on the path to sufficient emission reductions.

(Sources: Climate Action Tracker, NY Times, UKCOP26,

Categories: News, World

Leave a Reply