Comprehending COP26

If you’ve been keeping an eye on the news lately, you may have seen the word ‘COP26’ pop up a fair bit.

The event officially kicked on in Glasgow on Sunday, and the outcomes will impact us all. Take a deep dive with us to find out why it matters.

Firstly – what exactly is COP26?

COP26 (Conference of Parties under the UNFCCC) runs until the 12th of November, and is the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

For almost three decades, world governments have met nearly every year to establish how best to respond to the world’s climate emergency. Under the 1992 treaty, the UNFCC declared that every country on Earth was bound to “avoid dangerous climate change” and find ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

What sets this COP apart from previous conferences is the urgency to reach Net Zero by 2050.

To understand why, let’s take a step back to 2015, when the Paris Agreement was signed. The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty where every country agreed to the following:

  • To work together to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees and aim for 1.5 degrees to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate.
  • To limit greenhouse gas emissions from human activity to the same level that trees, soil, and oceans can absorb naturally between 2050 and 2100.

Under this agreement, it was also agreed that countries would commit to bringing forward plans setting out how much they would reduce their emissions by and that every five years, they would come back with an updated plan that would reflect this.

Jump back to today, and this conference will be about countries going much further than they agreed to in Paris because the commitments laid out then did not come close to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, and action must be taken now.

The key goals of COP26 include:

  • Finalising the Paris rulebook
  • Dramatically increasing investments in renewable energy
  • Expanding electric vehicle adoption
  • Halting deforestation and improving protections for ecosystems
  • Committing to putting an end to coal
  • Developing more robust resilience plans

You can read more in detail here

While COP26 focuses on achieving net-zero, whereby greenhouse gas production and removal net out to zero, we prefer to use the term carbon positive.

Carbon positive is about making a new set of choices that will deliver a cooler climate and deliver environmental co-benefits. It means going beyond carbon neutrality by making additional positive contributions to the environment, and it’s something we can all get behind at an individual level.

While there is no denying the importance that collectively, the world’s Ministers and Governments must act now to achieve net-zero and work on more robust policies and commitments to get there, there are also ways in which we as individuals can get behind COP26.

We have put a list together to inspire you as a Practical Change Maker.

1. Share news articles and social media with your friends and family on COP26.
It could be an interesting social media post about climate change or a news article on an inspiring individual or organisation working on sustainable solutions.

2. Attend a local or online virtual event in the next two weeks.
Check out Humantix of search Facebook events to find an online event near you.

3. Find out what Australia has committed to.
Australia first communicated its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement in 2015. You can read more about Australia’s commitment, policies & measures, commitment to transparency, and action plan here.

4. Switch to Green Energy.
A simple yet effective way to reduce your personal carbon footprint is by switching to green energy. Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar release minimal greenhouse emissions compared to traditional sources like coal and gas. You can find out which type of Green Energy is right for you using this handy guide.

5. Calculate your carbon footprint.
Take it one step further and calculate your personal carbon footprint. Our Carbon Footprint Calculator is tailor-made for Australians and empowers you to make positive changes to reduce your footprint and help restore Australia’s native landscape. The work we do contributes to the goals of COP26 as our nature-based solutions remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to tip the scales towards net-zero.

Get started here.

COP26 has reignited the fact that we are facing a climate emergency and that it is critical we take the steps to tread more lightly on our planet. Let’s think global and act local, so we can work towards building a carbon positive future.