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On 18 November 2021, the House of Lords is due to debate a motion moved by Baroness Young of Old Scone (Labour) that “this House takes note of the outcome of the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) and the challenges of implementing measures to tackle climate change”.

COP26 is an international climate change conference held under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It stands for ‘conference of the parties’ and is the 26th meeting of the parties to the UNFCCC. COP26 is ongoing and runs from 31 October to 12 November 2021. It is being held in Glasgow under the UK’s presidency and in partnership with Italy.

Described by the UK Government as “an event many believe to be the world’s last best chance to get runaway climate change under control”, the conference will be attended by world leaders and many negotiators, government representatives, businesses, and citizens. The goals of the conference are to:

  • secure global net-zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach;
  • adapt to protect communities and natural habitats;
  • mobilise finance; and
  • work together to deliver.

COP26 will continue work on implementing the 2015 Paris Agreement’s aim of limiting global temperature increase to “well below” 2.0 degrees celsius on pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit temperature increases to 1.5 degrees celsius.

Parties to the Paris Agreement set ‘nationally determined contributions’ (NDCs) that contain information on targets, policies and measures for reducing national emissions and on adapting to climate change impacts. The UN has said that the combined effect of the NDCs will determine whether the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement are met. However, an update on NDCs in October 2021 by UN Climate Change suggested that there was an “urgent need” to increase the level of ambition of NDCs to keep warming well below 2 degrees celsius or to limit it to 1.5 degrees (based on scenarios considered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

The COP26 website describes Paris as setting the destination and has said that “Glasgow must make it a reality”.

Section 4 of this briefing was updated on 15 November 2021 with high-level outcomes of the conference.

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