What is the UN Climate Change Conference?
The summer of 2021 was hard for many parts of Canada, with heatwaves across much of the country and deadly fires in British Columbia. Elsewhere in the world, floods and fires have been increasing. Scientists believe that climate change is the reason for much of this wild weather. In the fall of 2021, many scientists, world leaders, and others met in Glasgow, Scotland, for the UN Climate Change Conference.
Each year, world leaders, scientists, and other people meet for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The 2021 conference was planned for October 31 to November 12 in Glasgow, Scotland. Normally, thousands of people attend these conferences from all over the world. They participate in talks to deal with issues related to the climate or to report on what happens there.
Officially, the climate change conference is called the Conference of Parties, or COP. The conference in Scotland is the twenty-sixth of these types of gatherings, and so it is called COP-26. Dealing with pollution, especially the effects of fossil fuels like oil and gas, is normally a major part of the conference. Scientists believe that pollution from greenhouse gases coming from these fuels is a major factor in climate change.
Greenhouse gases like carbon come from burning fossil fuels. Methane is often a product of farm animals. These types of gases prevent the Earth’s heat from escaping into space, warming up the planet. Wild weather, droughts, and floods can be the result.
Even though some years are normally cooler or warmer than others, scientists have discovered that the world has warmed up overall by about one degree Celsius. After 1.5 degrees, scientists believe the results could be very dangerous for the Earth.
Finding ways to prevent a climate disaster is part of the COP discussions. Coal is one of the worst polluters. Finding ways to stop using coal is one of the major issues for COP-26. Moving from coal to a less harmful source of power could help reduce the greenhouse gas problem.
Trees are another issue at the conference. These plants help to clean the air and to hold the soil in place. However, many countries are dealing with deforestation, with trees being cut down for agriculture, roads, or city growth. If leaders can help protect trees in their countries, they can help provide a natural way of dealing with climate change.
Besides coal and trees, COP-26 is about cars and cash. Reducing the use of private cars and getting more people to walk or take the bus could help reduce pollution and keep global warming down to a level that might help prevent a climate disaster. Money from wealthy countries is necessary to help poorer countries pay for the changes they need to make.
With help from richer countries, poor countries could afford to switch from using fossil fuels to cleaner sources of energy. They could plant trees and invest in transit systems or bicycle paths. Using the COP-26 conference to set up funding for these countries could help them to set up the systems they need to reduce their pollution.
The annual COP conference is important for encouraging that world leaders do what they can to reduce climate change and deal with pollution. The next challenge will be to ensure that the people involved in the conference keep their promises.
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NASA. “The Ups and Downs of Global Warming.” https://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/upsDownsGlobalWarming.html
United Nations. “Glasgow Climate Change Conference–October-November 2021.” https://unfccc.int/conference/glasgow-climate-change-conference-october-november-2021.
United Nations. “UN Climate Change Conference (COP-26).” https://www.un.org/en/un-climate-change-conference-cop-26.