The Glasgow COP26 starts tomorrow. For the next two weeks, the usual talk between political leaders and business leaders will follow a different and much more significant agenda.
There is nervousness about how much can be achieved: ahead of the conference, countries have pledged to shave only 7.5% off predicted 2030 emissions, leaving the world on track for a temperature rise this century of at least 2.7°C. This would bring far worse storms, fires and floods than we have had so far with 1.2°C and risk tipping the planet's climate into much higher temperature rises.
As comparison, the UN says that instead of a 7.5% reduction we need to cut emissions of 55% by 2030 to meet the 1.5°C Paris goal. The reduction is so steep because of previous inaction.
As the Prime Minister's father said this week, COP26 is the last chance for world leaders to "buck up" and protect the planet for generations to come.
New pledges and plans, including crucial early targets for 2030 or earlier, are being announced steadily by companies and countries, suggesting that the penny is starting to drop among leaders who had not recognised the seriousness of the situation up to now.
The UN hopes to increase the pledges made during the conference to a level consistent with 2.2°C of warming, "providing hope that further action could still head off the most-catastrophic impacts of climate change. However, net-zero pledges are still vague."
The UN's hope for pledges at 2.2°C looks like a best case outcome. There is still a big gap between pledges and implementation and even full delivery of new pledges would be far from a safe planet. Future COPs will have even more to achieve.
Join the COP26 "Vigil for Hope" in Alton this weekend
Alton Climate Action Network (ACAN) has organised a Vigil for Hope for the COP, today and tomorrow in Alton Market Square. ACAN writes:
"ACAN, other local community groups, young people and churches are coming together to draw attention to the crucial UN Climate Talks in Glasgow in November. We must make it clear that failure is not an option if the hopes and dreams of our children and their children are to be realised.
"The UN’s latest report on climate change was described by the UN Secretary General as “Code Red for Humanity”. But there is still time to avert the worst if we think big, act fast and work together.
"Come along at any time on 30th or 31st October to talk, sing, pray, play climate games, or reflect quietly. We believe in the power of hope."
Ways to follow the COP26
There will be hundreds of meetings and events over the COP, which runs from 31 October to 12 November 2021. Here are some useful links:
The UN website for the COP26 lists the formal sessions and documents.
The official COP26 website has listings of the events. There is also an official COP26 YouTube channel.
The Green Zone, includes 200 events many open for public online viewing, featuring youth groups, civil society, academia, artists and businesses.
The green news service Edie.net contains a fantastic live blog.
The BBC is offering an alerts service to users of the BBC App.
The policy newsletter Politico is dropping the paywall on its energy and climate newsletter for two weeks during the COP.