What is COP26 and why does it matter? How to help the climate crisis (and still shop)

Photo credit: Markus Spiske

No, COP26 isn’t a new Arnie movie, but it is something you should watch out for.

COP26. Have you heard of it? We’ll forgive you if you haven’t because it’s not exactly headline news. Although we’d argue that it should be.

When it comes to the future of our planet, it gives us the heebie-jeebies that for the most part, it’s our governments and leaders that have the most impact. Yeah, we can all switch to reusable straws and coffee cups to save the nostrils of sea turtles, but on a wide scale, it’s the big dogs in charge that need to step up to the plate and actually implement fundamental changes to the way sh*t goes down.

At COP26, we can all cross our fingers and toes that this happens, because those big dogs are getting together for a big meeting.

Right, so what is COP26? Here’s the rundown:

  • COP26 stands for Conference Of the Parties (we’re guessing they purposely left out the T in the acronym because COTP isn’t as fun to say), and the 26 means it’s the 26th edition.
  • This year it started on Halloween and runs until November 12th, and is hosted by our pals in Glasgow.
  • It’s essentially a big meeting where the world leaders get together to discuss what they’re going to do in their respective countries to tackle the climate crisis we all find ourselves in, run by The United Nations. 

What’s the point of COP26?

The main thing is, they all need to discuss, and agree, the steps we need to take in order to achieve the goals set out in The Paris Agreement

Remember that? The Paris Agreement was the legally binding contract that our leaders agreed on during COP21 in 2015. The one that was held in Paris (go figure). Each country agreed to specific commitments to slow down the pace of climate change, reach net zero global emissions by 2050, and limit the warming of the world to within 1.5 degrees.

The UK pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 68% by 2030.

Big promises, yes. But frustratingly, empty promises in many cases. When you look at the statistics, globally we’re not on track to reach the goals and yes, that includes us here in the UK. We were doing great at reducing our emissions by stopping the burning of fossil fuels, but now that’s levelled out, our reduction has plateaued and we’re not doing much else about it. 

According to Greenpeace, COP26 is “the first global meeting where countries have to bring proper emission cutting targets, and plans to show how they’re doing their bit.”, but ‘plans’ just feels like a cop out if you ask us. 

We need action, not just more solutions, plans and ideas. 

Why are you telling me about COP26 then?

We know this is all a bit stressful. Eco-anxiety is a thing fo’sho. We’ve got it too. But we’re not telling you all this to make you feel bad or worried or cry yourself to sleep. Please don’t do that.

We’re telling you because it’s a wise idea to know what’s happening. Especially when it’s a select few powerful humans in charge of the future of our home.

We’re also telling you in the hope that it might spark a little fire in your belly to help keep those sharing their plans at COP26 accountable for their promises. If you want to do that but aren’t sure how, here’re a few ways:

  • Get your butt up to Glasgow and join in one (or more) of the 200 events happening that are open to the public. They’re in the Green Zone and tickets can be found here. We’re talking performances, screenings, exhibitions and more.
  • Take to social media to voice your opinions and give the leaders a stern nudge to live up to their words, using #TogetherForOurPlanet.

I’m more of a ‘make a change from home’ type than a sign swinger 

We hear you. Activism is a personal thing and not everyone is prepared to chain themselves to a fence in protest like Ali G (we don’t recommend you do that).

There are minor changes you can make to your everyday habits that can add up and reduce your emissions. 

We know you like to shop online. That’s why you’re here, right? You’ve downloaded our Chrome extension and that’s already a big win for the planet. 

By switching up your shopping habits and buying via our links, you can actively reduce the greenhouse emissions in the UK because we offset the carbon for you. Yeah, it’s pretty neat, but if you’re unsure on how we do it, we covered it in our intro blog, here.

Haven’t downloaded it yet? Do it here. It’s free. 

You can use it to shop your ‘fit for your trip to Glasgow, if ya like. In fact, you can even use it to book a hotel room. You’re welcome.

Words: Vicki Chagger | @VickiChagger 

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