COP26: The view from the ITV Border region

The Crossdykes windfarm in Dumfries and Galloway. 6/10/21. ITV pic
Credit: ITV News

The COP26 summit is underway, with leaders from around the world gathering in Glasgow to discuss climate change.

Those attending have big aims - to try and achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and limiting global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, protect natural habitats and communities, get developed countries to contribute more money to tackle the issue and encouraging international cooperation on the subject.

And it is not just in Glasgow where climate change is a big issue.

For many people in the ITV Border region, the environment is something they care about deeply and they will be looking on with deep interest at what happens at the summit.

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 The Queen has withdrawn from visiting after being advised by her doctors to rest - she will address the conference virtually instead.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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Deal with plastic pollution and make of use natural resources

A team which protects and improves both sides of the Solway will be looking on with interest at what happens in Glasgow.

The Solway Firth Partnership want leaders to recognise the value natural materials can play when it compe to capturing carbon - particularly seagrass and salt marsh.

  • Georgie Reid, Solway Firth Partnership

They also say it is essential to deal with man-made problems, pointing out that volunteers regularly find themselves clearing large amount of plastic products from the beaches they look after.

  • Nic Coombey, Solway Firth Partnership

Agriculture's impact

One subject which isn't on the agenda at COP26 - perhaps surprisingly - is agriculture.

Globally, it has been estimated that food and land use contribute up to a third of greenhouse gas emissions. They also play a major role in deforestation, ecosystem change and the loss of biodiversity.

The National Farmers' Union chair for Dumfries and Galloway thinks this is a missed opportunity.

Colin Ferguson, a dairy farmer from the Kirkineer area, points out that most farmers are keen to play their part in tackling climate change.

  • Colin Ferguson, NFU Scotland, Dumfries & Galloway Chair

Experts and our region

Glasgow University’s Dumfries campus is preparing to host its own climate conference highlighting some of the work going on here

  • Carol Hill, University of Glasgow

Our Political Correspondent Tom Sheldrick has also sat down to interview Leo Hickman. He's the editor of Carbon Brief - a website that specialises in analysing climate change and they discussed issues like a proposed coal mine for west Cumbria, flooding and proposals for a new nuclear development at Moorside.