COP26: why this year’s COP matters so much
“We are on a catastrophic path,” said António Guterres, secretary general of the UN. “We can either save our world or condemn humanity to a hellish future.”
His words are clear: urgent action is needed to address climate change or the world will soon face catastrophic consequences. We cannot afford to ignore this year’s COP, our chance to agree on the pathway to the world we want. But why does COP matter so much?
COP26 stands for Conference of the Parties and is another name for the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference, which has happened every year since 1995.
The UK hosts this year’s COP26 in partnership with Italy, and it will take place from 31 October to 12 November in Glasgow. The President is the British politician and Minister of State in the Cabinet Office Alok Sharma.
The event will bring together climate experts, campaigners, and representatives from over 200 countries to address the pressing problem of climate change. In a series of talks and events, they will discuss the changes that we need globally to tackle climate change and reach net zero emissions by 2050.
Where is COP26 being held?
This year, COP26 will be hosted in Glasgow at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC).
There are two main sites for the event: the Blue Zone and the Green Zone. The former is where the official negotiations occur, bringing together the delegates and observers through discussions, exhibits and cultural activities.
The Green Zone is the area for the public to learn more about COP-related projects. Workshops, exhibitions, and discussion groups will help promote social action and conversations around climate change throughout the two weeks.
Several other events are closely adjacent to the main COP26 across the city. One of the main ones is the Sustainable Innovation Forum organised by Climate Action, a fully programmed hybrid event creating a virtual window into COP26 and providing a global platform for people to engage in our generation’s most important climate meeting.
Why is COP26 important?
Most experts believe this year’s COP26 has a unique urgency, mainly because it was postponed from 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
To understand why it’s necessary to look back to another COP. COP26 is being viewed as the successor to COP21, where the Paris Agreement was signed. For this reason, COP26 is seen as the summit to address what has and hasn’t been achieved since 2015 while setting concrete plans to reach the Paris Agreement targets.
What is the Paris Agreement?
The Paris Agreement is an international treaty signed by almost all countries at COP21 in Paris in 2015. In the agreement, nearly 200 countries agreed to limit the global temperature rise to “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels, with an aspirational goal to keep it to 1.5C.
It is worth noting that the agreement is not fully legally binding, allowing all signatory nations to set their own goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by either 2025 or 2030 through “Nationally Determined Contributions.” These targets will be reviewed every five years through a stocktake process.
Why is immediate action needed?
As the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently stated, we are running out of time to take action on the climate crisis. Their report from August 2021 says we’ll need to make some severe changes to cut emissions enough to limit global warming to 1.5C. Climate experts have estimated that if we keep going at our current rate, the earth will heat up by 2.9C this century.
With this in mind, at COP26, leaders will look at whether enough has been done to lower emissions and limit warming since the Paris Agreement. They will be trying to answer how we can increase the speed of a global transition off fossil fuel and deal with economic and non-economic harms caused by climate change impacts that cannot be avoided through adaptation or mitigation.
Parties will also need to try and finalise the Paris Rulebook – the detailed rules that make the Paris Agreement operational. Agreeing on what laws should govern international carbon markets – the ‘Article 6 negotiations’ – is expected to be particularly difficult.
At COP26, every country will have to lay out their ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century.
What do we need to achieve at COP26?
COP26 president Alok Sharma stated that there are five priority areas for the conference:
Energy transition: “Seizing the massive opportunities of cheaper renewables and storage.”
Accelerating the move to zero-carbon road transport: “By 2040, over half of the new car sales worldwide are projected to be electric.”
Adaptation and resilience: “Helping people, economies and the environment adapt and prepare for the impacts of climate change.”
Nature: “Safeguarding ecosystems, protecting natural habitats and keeping carbon out of the atmosphere.”
Finance: “We need to unleash the finance which will make all of this possible and power the shift to a zero-carbon economy.”
Accelerating the adoption of clean technology to achieve COP26’s goals
Decarbonising our electricity supply through virtual power plants
27% of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by electricity production from non renewable resources. To meet global net zero targets and create a world entirely powered by renewables, we must completely revolutionise the energy sector. To achieve this, more forward-thinking solutions and greater innovation in the industry is needed.
Finding ways to produce flexibility on the grid is crucial to decarbonising our electricity supply. Technologies such as Moixa’s GridShare software can unlock the potential of distributed energy systems and increase the number of virtual power plants. By enabling homes to become power stations, we can move away from fossil fuels while encouraging active consumer participation in the energy landscape, an essential element for building a greener and cheaper energy future.
According to our founder Simon Daniel: “Collective action is needed to decarbonise our energy supply and end our reliance on fossil fuels. Only by utilising new innovations, upping the IQ of batteries, and providing alternative energy solutions can we build a future powered by renewables.”
How smart charging is key in the transition to EVs
As the transport sector is currently the most polluting in the UK, accelerating the transition to electric vehicles is a must. Again, AI represents a vital tool in enabling the decarbonisation of the sector, connecting millions of EVs to the grid while empowering consumers with the right tools to intelligently charge, with renewable supply, simply and conveniently.
Moixa’s Associate Director, EV Ben Fletcher, claims: “Intelligent EV charging not only allows individuals greater control over the power in their vehicle but also enables greater access to cheaper, greener energy. In turn, this ensures that drivers can decide when they want their vehicle to be ready by and the system then optimises when the vehicle charges.”
Meet us at the Sustainable Innovation Forum 2021
Moixa is pleased to partner with Climate Action for the Sustainable Innovation Forum 2021, a hybrid event on 8 – 10 November in Glasgow during COP26. The platform offers all stakeholders the opportunity to have a tangible impact at COP, helping build partnerships between business, government, UN agencies and the NGO community to accelerate the global transition to net zero.
Moixa’s Commercial Director Ed Gunn and Commercial Manager Natasha Morgan will attend the Sustainable Innovation Forum: this is your opportunity to connect with them and meet in person. To join us and take part in this collaborative event enabling climate action, you can register for free.
On 8 November, our founder Simon Daniel will also be discussing the Importance of Innovation for a Flexible, Digital and Decentralised Energy System at the Transition stage.
Find out more about Moixa’s Call for Action: