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What the COP?

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

This week, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) is attending the highly anticipated COP26 meeting, in Glasgow. 

COP stands for the Conference of the Parties which is the supreme decision-making body of the UN Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC). This is made up of over 196 countries and was created with a mandate to prevent dangerous climate change. COP26 is a critical summit for global climate action as it marks the first test of the 2015 Paris Agreement. 

What is the Paris Agreement? 

The Paris Agreement was signed in 2015 by almost every country in the world at the 21st meeting of the COP. The agreement aims to keep the rise in global average temperature to ‘well below’ 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels and ideally 1.5 degrees.

What is unique about this agreement is its bottom-up approach to combatting climate change. This approach allows individual countries to decide their own emission reduction targets, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Although these commitments are not legally binding and fall far below the necessary requirements to avoid dangerous climate change, the NDCs overcame years of political debate and inaction. 

Why is COP26 important?

To avoid dangerous levels of climate change, NDCs are based on a ‘ratchet mechanism’ in which countries must increase the ambition of their commitments every five years. The postponed COP26 meeting is the first test as to whether this approach has worked and whether countries will increase their ambition to combat climate change.

Click here to find out more about climate change and what DSWF is doing to mitigate and adapt to it.

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