What is COP26?
COP26 is the 2021 United Nations climate change conference. COP stands for Conference of the Parties, and the summit will be attended by the countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – a treaty that came into force in 1994. The UN has held these conferences for almost 30 years, but this one is different - it’s happening right here in the UK. Based in Glasgow, the UK is taking a presidential role on the event which will run from 1-12 November 2021.
Why does it matter?
Historically, these can be landmark events - the Paris Agreement was born at COP21, bringing for the first time a commitment to keep a global rise in temperature below 2 degrees with every effort to keep it to 1.5 degrees. Climate change has never been higher on the agenda, and COP26 can be a pivotal point for international cooperation and domestic policy.
Under the Paris Agreement, countries committed to bring forward plans on how much they would reduce their emissions. These plans are known as Nationally Determined Contributions - NDCs. These would be updated every 5 years - and COP26 is the first update of these.
The UK government has a huge focus on delivering a successful COP26. It has sought to lead the way, committing to ambitious Nationally Determined Contribution of 78% carbon reductions over 1990 levels by 2035. However, its plan to deliver this is way off course. The Climate Change Committee has repeatedly warned, ”It will not be possible to get close to meeting a net-zero target without engaging with people or by pursuing an approach that focuses only on supply-side changes”.
Where does Community Energy fit into COP26?
Current climate and recovery policy mostly focuses on big-cheque, business-focused, supply-side investment with nothing to support or stimulate collective action at individual or community or social business level. This is a potentially fatal flaw in the UK's 'world-leading' policies for COP26. We can and must exploit the focus on COP and climate action, to get government recognition and support for community energy as essential to achieving net zero.
- To ensure the UK Governments champion leadership from people and communities as critical to achieving net zero.
- The UK Governments to promote involvement of community energy business models in their net zero policies and programmes.
- To move community energy further into the mainstream with key stakeholders (e.g. DNOs, funders, LAs, businesses)’ and in wider climate, social enterprise and energy movements.
- To leverage COP to provide an enhanced role for community energy and a clear pathway towards the 2030 vision.
COP26 will drive climate change up the agenda - use this as an opportunity to get new people involved in your project and to reach out to other people in your community. Have a think about what you need - could you use this as a chance to get more residents signed up to your project, more volunteers, or to make vital links with other local groups? There are lots of great ways to do this - check out just some of them in the Get Involved section.
The road to COP26
How can I get involved?
Community energy’s power lies in its people - that’s you! We need our members (and their elected representatives) to join the campaign. There are 267 MPs with community energy in their patch - we want them all as community energy champions. You have hard-learned knowledge of community energy, where the government is succeeding, and where they're failing. Beyond political campaigning, COP is a great opportunity to enhance focus on climate action, spreading your message beyond your normal circles and getting supporters actively involved in your projects and in doing their bit from home.