25 - 31 October, 2021
Heard of COP26?
There has certainly been a lot of talk about it lately, and rightly so! But if you are not sure what it is all about, or its significance, here is a little overview to get you up to speed.
What is COP26?
Let's begin with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), which is an intergovernmental environmental treaty formulated in 1992. The treaty was formally adopted by countries across the globe in 1994, with the key objective being to avoid dangerous climate change through finding ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
For almost three decades, the UNFCCC parties have been gathering annually to respond to climate issues. These global climate summits, referred to as Conference of the Parties (COP), are an opportunity for nations and leaders to share their knowledge, and work together to reduce the negative, and irreversible impacts of climate change.
The summit this year, COP26, officially opens today in Glasgow, running until November 12. This will be the first conference since the pandemic, and with things the way they are, this could be one of our last shots to commit, and make significant enough changes.
What will COP26 focus on?
Extending the work of previous conferences, including that of the legally binding Paris Agreement, which was formulated in 2015. Thought of as one of the biggest achievements to come out of these summits, this accord saw 196 countries pledge to keep global temperature rises well below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably within 1.5 degrees Celsius. As this is the fifth summit since that accord was introduced, nations are required to arrive to COP26 with fresh targets that will serve to better meet this goal.
Securing global net zero (when the amount of greenhouse gas being produced, is balanced by the amount removed from the atmosphere) by mid century.
Climate finance, such as mobilising money to pay fo green investments, and providing money to poorer countries to help them combat climate issues.
Phasing out of coal ("cough, cough" ScoMo).
Reducing methane emissions.
Nature based solutions, such as preserving and restoring already existing natural carbon stores, and growing more trees.
What can we do?
We might not be able to attend the summit, but that doesn't mean we can't help.
We can be looking for opportunties to spread the message and our knowledge about climate change to our family, friends, and wider community.
It is also important to continue to educate ourselves about how our purchasing decision can impact the environment. Small things add up, so don't underestimate reducing your plastic consumption, or efforts to shop ethically and sustainably.
Want to find out more about COP26, climate change and in particular, how the fashion industry’s fits into it all? Check out some of the recommended reading I have linked, and summarised below.
Take a read
Want to know more about COP26?
I recommend starting with The Guardian article What is Cop26 and why does it matter? The complete guide as it provides a great overview of the summit and its significance. The article also explains (at a high level) everything from;
The reason for COP, despite the Paris agreement.
What are the nationally determined contributions (NDC) (or targets) set out by each country, and what is their current positioning?
Where the world's biggest emitter, China, fits into all of this?
The significance of 1.5 degrees Celsius and net zero.
Why has progress been so slow?
What this years conference focus on, and what is it likely to achieve?
Interested in finding out more about climate change?
Ahead of COP26, The Age has provided a great (but scary) multimedia explainer of the impacts of climate change that are happening across the globe. How the world ran out of time illustrates the changes in global temperature and sea levels, and the extreme weather conditions that have been occurring across the world.
The moral of the story? We have to get it right!
What has actually happened since that first conference?
To help answer this, I recommend taking a look at the DW article Climate crisis: Why do we need COP anyway? As the article suggests, progress and decision making has been slow. The biggest achievement so far is considered to be the Paris Agreement of COP21, which saw 196 countries agreeing to work together to limit the rise in global temperatures to well below 2 degrees Celsius, targeting 1.5 degrees Celsius, over preindustrial levels. But countries continue to act in ways incompatible with goal.
What will be the outcome of COP26?
So where does the fashion industry fit into all this?
There is mounting pressure on the fashion industry to address its role in the climate crisis. As the Vogue Business article What fashion should expect at COP26 suggests, reducing energy in stores is not enough. Steps need to be taken to incorporate the entire supply chain (raw material production to manufacturing), as this where the vast majority of clothing’s environmental footprint occurs.
The fashion industry is undeniably part of the problem when it comes to the climate crisis. Therefore, the industry must be included in climate discussions, and made part of the solution.
As outlined in Fashion unites on a call to action for COP26, the fashion industry and civil society organisations are coming together to ask world leaders to recognise the potential for the industry to help resolve the climate crisis, supporting and committing to;
"Collective action to achieve net zero emissions by no later than 2050
Increase responsibility by businesses towards their global supply chains
Support skills development in education to encourage children to learn the necessary skills to make, repair and reuse their clothes
Frame any solutions to the climate emergency around business models which shift the focus from profit and loss, to a just transition towards the well-being economy"
There is evidence that the fashion industry can reduce its impact on the environment.
The Guardian article, by the amazing Tamsin Blanchard, Cop26: Meet nine fashion designers making real change, identifies nine designers who are already playing a positive role. Fashion Open Studio, an initiative set up by Fashion Revolution, will present a series of online workshops for the UN climate change conference showcasing the work of these changemakers.
Please GET IN TOUCH or leave me a comment. I would love to hear about your experiences with COP26.
This is a personal blog. Any views or opinions contained on this site are my own. I am not affiliated with any brands, products, or organisations mentioned, and do not receive any sponsorship, payment, or other compensation for any of the content on this site.