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IPU holds virtual explanatory session on COP26

©Joshua Hibbert

©Joshua Hibbert  

In preparation for the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in November 2021 in Glasgow, the IPU hosted a virtual inter-parliamentary meeting on COP26 on 24 June, in collaboration with the British Group of the IPU and the Italian Chamber of Deputies. COP26 will bring together parties from around the world to advance action on climate change to meet the goals and objectives of the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

Over a hundred parliamentarians and parliamentary staff from around the world participated in the IPU’s virtual meeting. The presenter from the UNFCCC Secretariat, Marcela Main Sanchez, spoke of the background and purpose of the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties. The first COP was held in 1995, and the meetings occur annually. This year’s meeting will focus on six broad themes: 1. Ambition; 2. Financing; 3. Adaptation (how to quantify/measure progress); 4. Loss & Damage; 5. Transparency; and 6. Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, which pertains to carbon offsets.

Article 6 is one of the least accessible and most complex components of the Paris Agreement. This complexity was a major reason that Article 6 was not agreed to in principle until the last morning of the Paris negotiations in 2015 and was left unresolved at the COP24 talks in Katowice (Poland). Getting these rules right is critical for fighting climate change: depending on how they are structured, Article 6 could help the world avoid dangerous levels of global warming or let countries off the hook for making meaningful emissions cuts. Progress made during COP26 on agreement regarding Article 6 will be key to upholding the integrity of the Paris Accord and countries’ climate commitments.

The virtual meeting introduced the rapporteurs from the UK and Italy, who will be responsible for drafting the COP26 outcome document. This IPU outcome document will cover the pre-COP26 Parliamentary Meeting on 8-9 October 2021 in Rome, organized with the Italian Chamber of Deputies, and the Parliamentary Meeting during COP26 on 7 November 2021, organized with the British Group of the IPU. The expected outcome of both meetings will be a document structured to help chart a course for increased parliamentary action on climate change.

According to the UK rapporteur, the two-week COP26 is longer than normal and will be accompanied by many side events hosted by governments, NGOs, corporations and cities. The IPU event on 7 November is designed for parliamentarians to share ideas, interact and rub elbows with representatives of these other participating entities. The Italian rapporteur emphasized the ongoing mission of the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties – identifying and sharing best practices, creating valid impact-assessment models, and adopting clear mechanisms to reduce further climate change impacts.

This is the first COP to occur post-pandemic. The IPU will ensure all parliamentarians are best positioned to maximize their involvement in the COP26 proceedings.