Article submitted by Karen Bradley – Member of Parliament for the Staffordshire Moorlands:
You may have seen in the press that the UK is currently hosting the world’s biggest conference – COP26 in Glasgow.
I suspect you may also have wondered what on earth it is and why it matters. Having visited last week, I can assure you that it matters and that it has the potential to achieve more than any protest or rally.
COP (Conference of the Parties) is an annual, United Nations event that asks all members of the UN what they will do to combat climate change. You probably remember the Kyoto Protocol, the Rio Convention and the Paris Agreement. These are legally binding global accords that members of the UN signed up to at previous COP meetings. COP26 at Glasgow could be another moment like that.
At COP26 you can find stands from every country, explaining what they are doing to combat climate change. You can also see diplomats from around the world meeting to agree what happens next. And getting the agreement of over 200 countries to anything is never an easy task.
At this COP the UN is asking that countries commit to keeping global warming to no more than 1.5% – keeping 1.5 alive is repeated everywhere. Given that the world has already heated up by 1.1%, there is an awful lot to do. This is why at COP26 there has been agreement to reduce the use of fossil fuels, stop deforestation and switch to cleaner energy sources.
I was in government when the opportunity to host COP26 came up. I am proud that we pushed to make this happen and that Glasgow can now join Copenhagen, Rio and Paris in the list of places where tangible change happens. I am in no doubt that this is not easy, but know that UK officials are working round the clock to secure agreement.