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Explainer: What Is COP26 And Why Is It So Important For Tackling Climate Change Crisis?

COP26 will be held from Oct 31 – Nov 12 in UK’s Glasgow with member countries coming together to discuss climate change

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Explainer: What Is COP26 And Why Is It So Important For Tackling Climate Change Crisis?
COP stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’, wherein member countries come together to discuss the issue of climate change
Highlights
  • The 2021 meeting will be the 26th summit, which is why it's called COP26
  • UK’s Glasgow will be the host for COP26
  • The main agenda’s this year will be to secure global net zero by 2050

New Delhi: Earth’s climate is changing faster than predicted. Why is that a concern? UN Environment programme states that around the world storms, floods and wildfires are intensifying and the world is seeing the impact of human-caused global warming. United Nations states that air pollution sadly affects the health of tens of millions of people and unpredictable weather causes untold damage to homes and livelihoods too. Experts feel that we must confront the three inter-related crises of an ongoing pandemic, worsening climate change, and the unsustainable loss of nature and biodiversity on a global scale in bid to tackle the immediate climate crisis. To discuss the issues of climate change further, every year a national summit is organised by the United Nations where world leaders come together.

This year, the meeting is scheduled to take place from October 31 – November 12 in UK’s Glasgow. Here’s all you need to know about COP26 and why it holds so much importance:

What Is COP26?

For nearly three decades (since 1995) the UN has been organising global climate summits – called COPs – which stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’. The “parties” are from more than 190 countries which have signed up to the United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UN’s climate body. The 2021 meeting will be the 26th annual summit, which is why it’s called COP26.

Also Read: 43 Maharashtra Cities With Population Of 65 Million To Fight Climate Change With Commitment To “Race To Zero”

A Look At Some Of The Key COP Meetings So Far

Since 1995, COP members have been meeting every year. The UNFCCC has 198 parties including India. The first COP conference was held in Berlin. In 1997, at COP3, which was held in Kyoto, Japan, the famous Kyoto Protocol was adopted, WHERE the member states committed to limits for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

India hosted the eighth COP conference in 2002, which laid emphasis on ‘strengthening of technology transfer in all relevant sectors, including energy, transport and the promotion of technological advances through research and development’. At the heart of discussions over the last few years has been the Paris “rulebook”, which was passed at the 2015 COP conference in Paris, France. That year, the member countries agreed to work together to ‘limit global warming to well below 2, preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.’

The last conference, COP25, was held in Madrid, Spain, in November 2019 where the agreement was made about cutting carbon dioxide – a gas that causes global warming.

Each nation agreed to devise a plan to cut their carbon emissions by the next conference in Glasgow.

Also Read: India To Pitch For Reduction In Carbon Emissions At COP 26

Agenda Of COP26

According to United Nations (UN) Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), COP26 will work towards following four goals:

1. Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach:
Countries are being asked to come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century (2050). Net Zero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere.

According to the UN, to deliver on these stretching targets, member countries will need to:
• accelerate the phase-out of coal
• curtail deforestation
• speed up the switch to electric vehicles
• encourage investment in renewables

Also Read: India’s 450GW Renewable Energy Goal By 2030 Doable: US Official

2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats:
The second agenda of COP26 is to work together to enable and encourage countries affected by climate change to:
• Protect and restore ecosystems
• Build defences, warning systems and resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and even lives

3. Mobilise finance:
To deliver on the first two goals, United Nations states that the developed countries must make good on their promise to mobilise at least $100bn in climate finance per year. International financial institutions must play their part and work towards unleashing the trillions in private and public sector finance required to secure global net zero.

4. Work together to deliver:

The last agenda highlights the importance of working together
and emphasises that one can only rise to the challenges of the climate crisis by working together. It says:
• Finalise the Paris Rulebook (the detailed rules that make the Paris Agreement operational)
• Accelerate action to tackle the climate crisis through collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society

Also Read: Greenhouse Gas Levels Hit Record High In 2020 Despite Pandemic: Report

Why Do We Need To Act On Climate Change?

According to the World Wildlife Fund, world’s leading conservation organization that works in nearly 100 countries, the world is already 1° C (1.8° F) hotter than it was between 1850 and 1900, the pre-industrial era. It further states, things that are at stake if we don’t limit global warming:

– Sea levels can rise which can impact 1 billion people by the year 2050
– Coral reefs are at risk of severe degradation. If there is a change in water temperature, it can cause algae to leave coral reefs, turning them white and making them vulnerable to disease and death—a phenomenon known as coral bleaching.
– Arctic sea ice recedes every summer, but still covers millions of square miles of ocean today. But the Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth and ice-free summers could become a reality
– Heat waves will become more frequent and severe around the world, affecting hundreds of millions—or even billions—of people if we don’t act
– Floods can become more frequent and heavier
– As the earth continues to warm, crucial habitats may no longer be hospitable for certain animals or plants. This puts a variety of species at risk, depending on whether they can adapt or move

Also Read: Global Climate Conversation: Key Moments From Decades Of Climate Conferences

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity,  that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India. 

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