What is COP 26?


Jason Lo, In-Depth Writer

The annual United Nations Climate Change Conference was held this year in Glasgow, Scotland. This year’s conference had the honor of being the first conference where a climate pact explicitly planned to phase out coal usage in signing nations. This event has had a long history of cooperation and planned action against climate change. 

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change website, the first conference was held in Berlin in 1995. Two years later in 1997, the conference in Kyoto created the baseline treaty of all major transnational agreements with the Kyoto Protocol, which called for all signing parties to cut emissions by 6-8% by 2012. In 2005, the first meeting of the parties occurred after the signing of the Kyoto Protocol. In 2015, the most famous of the conferences occurred in Paris with the famous Paris agreement being created and signed the same year. This is the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference slated for in 2020, but moved due to COVID-19. 


This year’s conference has four main goals. These goals are as follows, according to the official website of the conference: 

  1. Secure global net-zero by mid-century and stay 1.5 degrees within reach.
  2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats.
  3. Mobilize finance. 
  4. Work together to deliver. 


These goals are geared towards expanding and finalizing plans established in 2015. The goals are put in place to make sure that the 2015 planned goal of 2030 is hit with success. This year, many world leaders have decided to not attend in person due to the pandemic. However, headline figures, such as former President Barack Obama, did attend and give speeches at this year’s conference. Many have criticized the conferences for not being effective while establishing a major carbon footprint due to the international nature of the conference. The COP26 conference, according to the Washington Post, had a record-breaking carbon footprint. Although the conference has some controversy and critique, many are relieved to see international cooperation to resolve the leading world crisis.