What is COP26 and how does it affect sport?

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Climate change already has an impact on sport

Sporting organizations will be either involved in the discussion on global climate change at the meeting of world leaders this week in Glasgow.

The summit, COP26 is the latest in a long line of annual meetings. However, many consider this the most important. A major United Nations scientific report warned that climate change is a "code Red for humanity".

This two-week conference will dominate news around the globe, but it could also have implications in sport.

What is COP exactly?

COP stands to represent "conference of parties" and is an annual gathering of the 197 parties (mostly nations) who have signed up for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This agreement aims at "preventing dangerous human interference in the climate system".

Glasgow marks the 26th such occurrence. It also has an added significance because nations will be expected to outline plans to honor pledges made five-years ago regarding global warming.

At COP21, Paris, agreement was reached to limit global warming to below 2C, and preferably to 1.5C compared with pre-industrial levels.

The increase in temperature is already 1.1C. We are also on track for 2.7C warming this century due to current emissions. This, according to a UN report, could lead "disastrous consequences" or even be a "climate disaster".

After last year's meeting was delayed due to the pandemic, and after unprecedented weather events such as flooding in Western Europe (killing at most 170 people) or China (displacing almost 2m people), and "heat dome" in Canada (which is estimated to have caused the death of around 1bn marine mammals external-link as well as an increase in wildfires.

Climate change is something that cannot be ignored - Kenworthy

What is the impact of climate change on sport?

In recent years, extreme weather events have had a significant impact on sport.

The heat caused matches to be suspended on all courts outside the Australian Open in 2014.

In 2014, the Winter Olympics in Sochi was an example of major winter sports events that required artificial snow to complement the melting snow at Olympic venues.

Typhoon Hagibis caused matches at the 2019 Rugby World Cup to be cancelled, including England's match with France.

Concerns about extreme heat caused the Tokyo Olympics' 2021 marathon to be moved. Competitors spoke out of the harsh conditions in the most recent Games.

It is expected that flooding will be a problem for nearly all English football league fields by 2050.

BBC Sport was recently informed by Dr Fai Fung, Met Office: "Climate projections provide the best window into the future world. Looking through that window shows that climate change will affect all aspects of our lives."

"We can't take the viability of major sporting events in the world as a guarantee of their future success. This is why it's so interesting to look at the impact of climate change on society.

"Cutting greenhouse gas emissions from nations around the globe will prevent many, but not all, of the worst effects of climate change on peoples, businesses, nature and the environment - including sport. Science shows that adaptation is also necessary alongside emission reductions.

Thorsby, the footballer whose shirt highlights climate change - Thorsby talks to the Sports Desk podcast

What does sport have to do with the COP?

Sport is a multi-billion dollar industry with unique global reach.

Many see sport as a key tool in communication, and it is a multi-faceted effort that involves all sectors of society and industry to address climate change.

This is recognized by the UN through their Sport for Climate Action Framework. It asks that sports organizations sign up for five key principles.

Make systematic efforts to increase environmental responsibility

Attenuate overall climate impact

Climate action education

Encourage responsible and sustainable consumption

Communication is key to climate action

How will Glasgow's sporting scene look?

Nico Rosberg, a former F1 driver, will be attending the Sport for Climate events Wednesday

Wednesday will be the day that sport comes to Glasgow's attention.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is expected to be represented by key figures.

Sport for Climate Action will host an afternoon event on Wednesday. There will also be fringe talks and panel discussions where athletes and sports bodies will meet to discuss how they can increase pressure on the industry and send a positive message for fans all over the world.

Formula E is the summit's only official partner. Hannah Mills and Olympians Paula Radcliffe, as well as the Williams F1 team, Nico Rosberg, Ledley King, Tottenham Hotspur ambassador, and former F1 driver Nico Rosberg, are expected to attend.

Which decisions could have an impact on sport?

In that they aim to tackle climate change and emissions across all sectors, the main resolutions of this conference could have an impact on sport.

One important development is the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework. This framework, which is a promise from sports bodies to help the environment, is about to increase its request for sports organizations.

By 2030, 50% of global CO2 emissions will have been reduced

Achieve net zero by 2040

Send UN annual reports on progress towards achieving these goals

Although the IOC has already made its commitment to these targets, we are eager to hear from other organizations.

A variety of sporting organizations are joining forces to announce other initiatives outside of the main summit.