Climate change takes center stage at COP26 summit in Scotland this week

This NASA supercomputer model illustrates how greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide change throughout the year. Red is used for higher concentrations.
The United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, has been launched in Glasgow, Scotland. It welcomes world leaders, experts, and activists who are looking for ways to slow climate change.

During the two-week long discussions and negotiations, participating countries will attempt to reach an agreement on a stronger stance in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. This is in order to allow the world to meet the 2015 COP21 climate conference in Paris.

At COP21, the Paris Agreement was negotiated. It obligates countries to try to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degree Celsius, compared to preindustrial times.

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However, this goal seems impossible. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP), less than a week prior to the start of COP26 negotiations, released their Emissions Gap report 21. It found that the existing national emission reduction pledges will continue to make it possible for global temperatures to rise by 2.7 degrees Celsius before the end of the century.

A faster rate of warming will result in a greater degradation of the environment and more weather-related disasters like floods and droughts.

Already, signs of climate change are everywhere. A range of catastrophic events affected countries across all continents in 2021 was witnessed. Satellites have observed ice sheets melting at an unprecedented rate as polar regions heat up faster than any other part of the globe. Areas that are not used to tropical storms, like the Oman coast and the desert-covered Arabian State of Oman, have been ravaged by them. Record-breaking heat waves caused devastating wildfires that destroyed vast areas of land and forest, releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The Glasgow negotiations will encourage countries to increase their efforts and to agree on a more aggressive approach. Scientists warn that the decade up to 2030 is crucial if humanity is to win its battle against climate change.

Negotiations have been difficult in the past, with the less developed countries criticizing the states of the west for assuming the majority of responsibility for the current situation and expecting equal treatment. The U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement was announced by Donald Trump, an ex-president of the United States. However, the country joined the agreement shortly after the Biden administration took office.