Climate change includes both global warming driven by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century humans have had an unprecedented impact on Earth’s climate system and caused change on a global scale.
The largest driver of global warming is the emission of gases that create a greenhouse effect, of which more than 90% are carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane. Fossil fuel burning (coal, oil, and natural gas) for energy consumption is the main source of these emissions, with additional contributions from agriculture, deforestation, and manufacturing.
Temperature rise on land is about twice the global average increase, leading to desert expansion and more common heat waves and wildfires. Temperature rise is also amplified in the Arctic, where it has contributed to melting permafrost, glacial retreat and sea ice loss. Warmer temperatures are increasing rates of evaporation, causing more intense storms and weather extremes.
CoP 26 was originally scheduled to take place from 9 to 19 November 2020, in Glasgow, United Kingdom, but was postponed to October 31st to 12th November 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is the 26th United Nations Climate Change conference. The conference is set to incorporate the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the 16th meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP16), and the third meeting of the parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA3).
This Glasgow conference is the first time that Parties are expected to commit to enhanced ambition since COP21. Parties are required to carry out every five years, as outlined in the Paris Agreement, a process colloquially known as the ‘ratchet mechanism’.