COP26: Coronation Street and Emmerdale stars on how new storylines will highlight climate change

Coronation Street's Maria gets upset as she finds out a football field could be cleared to make way for a new motorway bypass

Some of the best-loved British TV soap characters will make special appearances in other dramas this week as Coronation Street, EastEnders, Emmerdale, Casualty, Doctors, Holby City and Hollyoaks join forces to highlight climate change.

And for the first time ever, the soaps have all filmed scenes to discuss and cover aspects of the climate crisis, as the COP26 climate conference takes place in Glasgow.

As world leaders hold talks, the TV shows have created crossovers between them with some characters appearing in different dramas.

The COP26 climate conference - what you need to know

What is COP26? When and where will it be?

Each year, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meets at what is called the Conference of the Parties (abbreviated as COP) to discuss the world's progress on climate change and how to tackle it.

COP26 is the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties summit which will be held in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November.

Who is going?

Leaders of the 197 countries that signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – a treaty that came into force in 1994 - are invited to the summit.

These are some of the world leaders that will be attending COP26:

  • US President Joe Biden, climate envoy John Kerry, climate adviser and former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, and 10 other US cabinet officials.

  • Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison. In the days leading up to COP26, Mr Morrison committed Australia to a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Prince Charles, Prince William, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge are also attending. The Queen has withdrawn from visiting after being advised by her doctors to rest - she will address the conference virtually instead.

China's President Xi Jinping, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, and President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil are among the leaders that have decided not to travel to Glasgow.

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What is it hoping to achieve?

1. Achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels - Countries are being encouraged to set ambitious 2030 emissions targets. They are also encouraged to accelerate the phase-out of coal, clamp down on deforestation, speed up the switch to electric vehicles and encourage investment in renewables.

2. Protect natural habitats and communities from climate change disasters

3. Finances for a greener future - In 2009, developed countries were asked to keep to their promises to contribute at least $100 billion (£72.5 billion) per year by 2020 to protect the planet. In 2015, it was agreed that the goal would be extended to 2025.

However, new analysis shows the goal is unlikely to have been met last year and is on track to fall short in 2021 and 2022.

4. Getting all countries and organisations to work together to tackle the climate crisis

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In Coronation Street Maria Connor will make viewers aware of the severity of overdevelopment as she lashes out about a field that could be dug up,

The mum and hairdresser gets upset after husband Gary tells her the field where her son Liam plays football, could be cleared to make way for a new motorway bypass.

In the soap, her son has recently been diagnosed with asthma and Maria is told is could have been caused by air pollution.

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And in Emmerdale, grieving doctor and dad Liam creates a TikTok video as he works on his new allotment, which is helping him deal with his daughter Leanna's death.

The social media video is then seen in Corrie as Gary shows it to Maria while they sit in a cafe discussing the plans for a new bypass.

Emmerdale's Liam is seen working on his community garden, which is helping him deal with his grief

In Hollyoaks, Nate shows Ripley a news article about Maria's protest calling for action to tackle air pollution. Nate then suggests working with Ripley to do business more sustainably.

Samia Longchambon, who plays Maria in Coronation Street, says she was 'really shocked' when she heard there would be crossovers in the storylines of British TV soaps

Corrie actor Ms Longchambon said she was "really shocked" when she first heard about plans to create crossovers in the storylines of the popular TV soaps.

She said: "We sort of go out of our way not to usually 'cross contaminate' the soaps but with this, it's been such a brilliant idea and it's a unique opportunity for us to get together to cover this climate change message in a special and entertaining way that will stay in people's minds."

Ms Longchambon hinted that the climate issues facing her character is likely to run into next year: "It's not something that's going to be done and dusted in a week."

Jonny McPherson, who plays Liam in Emmerdale, said of the TikTok dance video he had to act out: "It was fun but painful, slightly humiliating to do. But anyway, I did it with Amelia, who was much younger and a better dancer so she made it fun."

Jonny McPherson, who plays Liam in Emmerdale, talks about acting out the dancing video and shows ITV News Arts Editor Nina Nannar the TV soap's community garden

He added: "It's hard not to feel like the world is burning around us and there's quite a lot to do in quite a short space of time."

Nader Mabadi, Emmerdale's head of production, said the community garden is both a prop for the TV show and a real community garden to use on the show and off screen.

Mr Mabadi will be speaking at COP26 on Saturday as part of a panel featuring TV production heads.