What is COP26 and why should you care?
Hottest ever decade in Australia. Horrendous wildfires in Oregon and California. Devastating floods in Germany. Droughts in Madagascar. Weather phenomena are becoming more visible, they cross borders and are moving seemingly closer to home.
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from August 2021 is a flashing red, stressing “irrefutable” evidence of human influence on the climate. If our planet would be an old Hewlett-Packard LaserJet printer from 1999, the paper would jam everywhere, the printer would flash in all available warning colours and trying to fix it would only result in an uncountable number of paper scraps on the floor. Denying the human influence on the climate: Not cool.
So how do we fix our massive HP printer?
Everybody needs to pull together and in sync on the paper, not leaving it on the floor for someone else to clean up and preferably in unison. That’s where the United Nations and their “Conference of the Parties”, short COP26, come into play.
What is COP26?
It’s a conference initiated by the United Nations that is now meeting the 26th time. It’s attended by countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1994 and will be held in Glasgow from the 31 October till 12 November 2021. As of 2021, the UNFCCC has 197 signature parties. It brings together governments, world leaders, representatives from civil society and businesses.
A few key outcomes from previous meetings was the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, the Paris Agreement in 2015 and Greta Thunbergs famous speech in 2019 at COP25.
What are the objectives of the COP26?
1. Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach
The Paris Agreement in 2015 defined to keep the rise in the global temperature “well below” 2 degrees and ideally at 1.5 degrees. Unfortunately, science is ringing the alarm bells as the difference between 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees can have significant impacts on our planet. At the COP26, the attention should be drawn to 1.5 degrees and preferably there should be significant actions to bring new and more ambitious goals to the table. The Paris Agreement was just not good enough to save our planet and we need to do way more to reach net zero by 2050.
2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats
The second objective is to prepare countries for the devastating effects of climate change. The climate has already started to change and all countries need to work together to protect and restore ecosystems, build defences and infrastructure to avoid loss of lives and livelihoods.
3. Mobilise finance
This one is probably the most ambitious one. Developed countries must fulfil their promise to mobilise at $100bn in climate finance per year to less developed countries. The countries have already fallen short in 2019 and that was before the pandemic. There are also problems with tracking the fund effectively. The pledge from developed countries is vital to help achieving objectives one and two as climate change is affecting poor countries relatively more leading to climate refugees and disruptions in supply chains.
4. Work together to deliver
This objective is to finalise the operational points of the Paris Agreement and to accelerate change through collaboration between businesses, governments and civil society. There are still outstanding points from the 2015 Paris Agreement, for example no universal system to keep track of the commitments and the muddy carbon credits that have not been proven as an effective instrument against climate change yet.
Why should you care?
You live on this planet, and you have elected the politicians so you can hold them accountable for their policies. There is plenty of things that individuals can do to help save the planet. You can join the Count us in campaign and make your action count by sharing it on social media. Example steps to reduce carbon pollution include the below but you can find many more:
- Walk & cycle more
- Cut food waste
- Repair and re-use
- Eat more plants
As a business, we support the RaceToZero campaign which also exists for small businesses. We have signed up to the SME Climate commitment. We have officially committed to halve our emissions by 2030. We wanted to create a company with a purpose and we recognise the responsibility we have as a brand when selling products to consumers and their pets.
Our Sustainability Framework for 2022 is available here which is our starting point into net zero. We will actively try to reduce the carbon paw print of pets through our eco friendly pet products.
Many people think that these conferences aren’t giving out ambitious enough targets. When we look at the Paris Agreement from 2015, this might be true. They do however raise awareness and encourage public discourse. Targets are then being cascaded down by the government to be fulfilled by businesses and civil society. They give a voice to scientists and they get countries talking and collaborating. There is still so much to do and each and everyone counts in this fight. Only together we can minimise the impacts of climate change. So let’s build momentum and continue the political discourse.