A sketch style Q&A about COP26, why it is important, and what local people can do to get involved.

What’s a COP?

Come again?

This COP26 thing. What’s a COP, and does that mean it’s the 26th COP? If so, what happened to the other 25. No-one seemed very bothered about them.

Well COP stands for “Conference of the Parties” Are you any the wiser?

Probably less wise.

OK, it’s the Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, another acronym, UNFCCC. That was agreed in 1994 with the aim preventing “dangerous” human interference with the climate system.

OMG, it’s acronym heaven!

The first COP was held in 1995, so, yes, this is the 26th meeting. It was supposed to happen last year but, well, you can probably guess why it didn’t…

OK, but why haven’t I heard of the other 25?

Well, climate change hasn’t been top of the news very often until this year, has it? But have you heard of the Paris Agreement?

Well, yes. Wasn’t that the one that said we had to stop temperatures rising by 2°C, and aim to be below 1.5°C?

You’ve got it. Well, that was agreed at the end of COP21 in 2015. The thing is, part of the Paris agreement was that each country has to set a target for greenhouse gas reductions, and these are updated every five years. So that’s why COP26 is so very important.

Not just because it’s in the UK then?


And not because everything is going seriously pear-shaped?

Well, OK, that too.

So this is a big deal for the UK Government then?

Well, you’d think so, but the Government-appointed chair, Alok Sharma MP, isn’t exactly a world statesman. But of course our own MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip will be there.

Naturally. So who else is coming of any note?

A large number of world leaders. It’s perhaps more instructive to say who won’t be there, which according to my current reading, includes the leaders of China, Russia and B