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Good COP, bad COP

What makes a good climate change conference?

Photo by Samuel Ferrara on Unsplash

The world has pinned its hopes on the fact that this year’s global climate conference, COP26, will deliver the action-conducive consensus that is urgently needed to address climate change. But what is the COP, who are the actors behind it, and what can we expect from this year’s edition?

How it all started

Rio de Janeiro hosted over 30,000 representatives of governments and civil society to discuss economic development and the environment at the Earth Summit in June 1992. Photo by Agustin Diaz Gargiulo on Unsplash

Who’s who at the climate COPs?

National delegates gather at the COPs every year to discuss progress on climate action. Picture by United Nations Climate Change on flickr
Civil society action hub at COP24. Photo by Claire Miranda / APMDD

What will make COP26 a good COP?

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (third left), UNFCCC’s Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres (left), French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and President of the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21), and President François Hollande of France (right), celebrate the historic adoption of the Paris Agreement.
US Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken discussing American leadership on climate action in April 2021, in the wake of the country’s rejoining of the Paris Agreement.
  • Ensuring mitigation efforts are stepped up — that is, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions —in order for the 1.5 degree Celsius tempretature goal to remain within reach;
  • Strengthening adaptation and resilience to protect us, and particularly the most vulnerable regions of the world, from the impacts of climate change that we can’t avoid;
  • Mobilising the USD 100 billion in climate finance that developed countries have endeavoured, in the Paris Agreement, to allocate every year to support the decarbonisation of their developing counterparts. The UNFCCC is based on the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibility, meaning that the entire global community needs to partake in the efforts to combat climate change, but that those efforts need to be commensurate with the capabilities of each signatory.
  • Underpinning the three goals above, the UK COP26 Presidency has set out to enhance international collaboration, particularly around the five themes of this year’s event, which are: clean energy, adaptation and resilience, energy transition in transport, nature-based solutions, and finance.

The circular economy and COP26

The transition to a circular economy is essential if we are to contain global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Picture by David Gilbert / RAN
Global leaders pledged their commitments to a circular economy as part of their climate action plans at WCEF+climate in April 2021.



Features and thought-leadership on the circular economy

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Ellen MacArthur Foundation

We work to build a framework for a circular economy that is restorative and regenerative by design.