The COP26 and the role of the EU for climate change


Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at the Opening Ceremony for Cop26 at the SEC, Glasgow. Source: Flickr


Brief introduction to the COP26

The COP26 is the 26th edition of the United Nations annual climate change conference. This year’s Conference Of Parties (COP) is hosted by the UK, more specifically in Glasgow, with Italy as main partner and is taking place from the 31s of October to the 12th of November.

At the COP delegates from different countries meet for formal negotiations and informal consultations. They also take part in meetings with other delegations to clarify their position and interests with the aim of reaching an agreement. One of the most famous COP meetings is the COP21 in which the Paris Agreement was signed. Almost every country signed up to cutting carbon emissions to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees down to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.


The objective of the COP26

There are four main topics for this year’s conference of parties: to secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach, to adapt, to protect communities and natural habitats, to mobilize finance and to work together to deliver on climate goals faster.

Countries have been asked to reach net zero emissions by 2050. To deliver on these stretching targets, countries will need to encourage investment in renewables and to speed up the switch to electric vehicles. Every country that signed the Paris Agreement, agreed to disclose their emissions reduction targets – their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) – every five years to reflect their highest possible ambition and a progression over time. Up until now around 70% of the world’s economy is now committed to reaching net-zero emissions.

COP26 brings the major emitting countries face to face with the countries most vulnerable to climate change. Even if the countries work to reduce emissions, further change is inevitable: the most vulnerable are at the greatest risk from climate change. For this reason, all countries have to produce an “Adaptation Communication” which is a summary of what they are doing and planning to do to adapt to the impacts of the changing climate, challenges they face and where they need help.

Countries need to manage the increasing impacts of climate change on their citizens’ lives and they need the funding to do it. The scale and speed of the changes will require all forms of finance: public finance for development of infrastructure to transition to a greener and more climate-resilient economy and private finance to fund technology and innovation.

Each day of the COP is dedicated to a determined topic: finance, youth, nature, adaptation, loss and damage, gender, science and innovation, transport, cities, region and built environment. The detailed presidency program is explained at this link.


Xi Han Xuan, Aislinn Mulligan, Sophie Strohler , Chandelle O’Neil, Irfan and Ahmad Bhassan during the Unifying for Change: The global youth voice event at COP26 on 5th November 2021 at the Hydro, Glasgow. Source: Flickr


The role of the EU in the fight against climate change

With the European Green Deal the EU is setting a positive example since Europe wants to be the leader for action against climate-change and the first climate-neutral continent in the world. To achieve that, it has committed to reducing emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

The EU has adopted some of the most advanced environmental legislation in the world and has achieved its past goals on emission reductions. As the largest contributor to international climate finance, the EU is living up to its commitment to provide funding for developing countries to help them face the effects of climate change. For more information about the financial interests of the ECB about climate change, read this article.

The Council and the European Commission will represent the EU at the COP meeting. For the Council, Slovenia will attend the meeting and take part in the discussion on behalf of the 27 EU member states. The green transition for the EU presents a major opportunity for the European industry by creating markets for clean technologies and products. In the EU starting from 2026, road transport will be covered by emissions trading, putting a price on pollution, stimulating cleaner fuel use and re-investing technologies. The European Commission proposed to increase the binding target of renewable sources in the EU’s energy mix to 40%. In addition, the Commission proposed to increase energy efficiency targets at EU level and make them binding, to achieve by 2030 an overall reduction of 40% for final and primary energy consumption. The Commission is requiring Member States to renovate at least 3% of the total floor area of all public buildings annually, to set a benchmark of 49% of renewables in buildings by 2030 and requires Member States to increase the use of renewable energy in heating and cooling by 1.1% points each year until the end of the decade. The Commission proposed to restore Europe’s forests, soils, wetlands and peatlands. This will increase absorption of CO2 and will make our environment more resilient to climate change.