Hillingdon Friends of the Earth



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What on earth is COP26, and why is it so-called?


COP26 is a large climate conference taking place in Glasgow from 1-12 November.


You would be forgiven for asking what a COP is, and why there have been 26 of them. So just a little history.


In 1992 an international treaty was signed to combat climate change (even though they’d already been talking about it for 20 years) that has now been signed by 197 countries. This was the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC for short.


Each meeting under the auspices of the UNFCCC is called a Conference of the Parties, hence COP. This year’s meeting is the 26th. Hence COP26.


The meeting that adopted the Paris Agreement – remember that? – was COP21.


Under the terms of the Paris agreement, all the signatories have to develop Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs, sorry for yet another acronym) that include targets for emissions reduction.


These NDCs have to be updated every five years, and that means in time for COP26 – which was delayed from last year for obvious reasons. That’s why COP26 is so important.


So what’s the problem?


COP26 has goals, and they are ambitious. However some countries – you can perhaps guess who they are – are not going remotely far enough with their NDC reductions.


The UK is making progress, with an NDC that’s aiming for 68% reduction of emissions from 1990 levels, replacing 57% at COP21.So perhaps we should be applauding our Government for their efforts.


It’s also been noticeable that Boris Johnson and the Government minister chairing COP26, Alok Sharma, have been globe-trotting with a message that at least hints at the urgency of the crisis.


However, whilst we are chivvying the rest of the world to do better, the UK is still planning to:

  • open a new coalmine in Cumbria
  • open a new oil field off the coast of Shetland
  • invest in a new Liquid Natural Gas project in Mozambique.

Doesn’t this seem a little hypocritical? And the Government still has huge road-building plans; fossil fuel companies are benefiting from huge subsidies unavailable to renewable companies, and spending billions on lobbying and greenwash; and British banks are still investing heavily in these same companies.


So what did we do about it?


On the Global Day of Action, Saturday 6th November, we marched from Uxbridge Tube Station in the heart of the Prime Minister's constituency to his office. There we handed in a letter demanding that he stops all investment in new fossil fuel projects at home and abroard immediately.




We had a stall at the Duck Pond Market in Ruislip the following day, Sunday 7 November.


We were very active on Twitter and Facebook too.  Follow us on @hillingdonfoe.