What is ‘COP’?
COP stands for Conference of the Parties – and it is the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, now in it’s 28th year. The ‘parties’ are the original countries which signed up to the UN Climate change treaty in 1994. . The president of this year’s COP, which begins on 30 November in Dubai is Sultan Al Jaber, who is the president of the state oil company of the United Arab Emirates – a highly controversial choice.
Over the years there have been numerous targets, agreements, hopes and disappointments at different COPs.
The Paris agreement in 2015 (COP 21) set out legally binding requirements for countries to hold global temperature rises to “well below 2C” while “pursuing efforts” to stay within 1.5C, yet the world remains on course for a 2.5 C increase.
Recent COP meetings have focussed on exploring areas such as a loss and damage fund to support developing countries. At COP27 there were significant pledges by Australia, and a commitment from Brazil to reduce deforestation. As is traditional, the hosts of the COP set the focus for the discussions which this year will be:
- Clean energy – fast tracking the renewable energy transition.
- Putting nature, people, lives and livelihoods at the heart of climate action, including supporting the most vulnerable.
- Delivering on finance; making good on old promises and setting a new deal for finance
- Mobilising inclusivity; ensuring decisions, solutions and discussions are truly inclusive of local communities and indigenous peoples.
What have the conferences done for Cumbria?
An important question, as here in Cumbria you could be forgiven for thinking that decisions and pledges made on the other side of the world don’t have a huge local impact.
However, some UK policies have been influenced by COP pledges.
For example, the UK government is committed to reducing energy use in buildings, which has led to funding for nationwide retrofit projects. (£1.8 billion awarded to boost energy efficiency and cut emissions of homes and public buildings across England – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) Here at CAfS, retrofitting and cutting energy use in buildings have been a focus of our work for some time as carbon emissions from buildings are around 21% of our total emissions footprint in Cumbria. You can help by stopping the wasting of heat in your home or work – and our Retrofit Made Easy project is a good place to start
With Cumbria’s farming and agriculture sector in mind, there was a significant focus on methane at COP26. Last year, the UK government released a memorandum: United Kingdom methane memorandum.
CAfS is now working with farmers and their representative organisations to help ensure we can produce and consume low carbon food.
COP 27 also, for the first time, included a reference to health as, “the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.” At CAfS we have recognised for many years the co-benefits for communities to be gained from adopting low carbon initiatives, such eBikes and locally grown food, so that we fight climate change AND improve our well-being and healthy habits. You can read more about this on the Zero Carbon Cumbria site here.