Countdown to COP26

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Countdown to COP26

Throughout October, people all over the world will take action to demand our leaders make serious progress at the COP. The Countdown to COP26 is 350 Sacramento’s calendar of events, which includes actions happening in Sacramento as well many activities you can do as an individual. It all makes a difference.

Photo: IMG_3286 by UNclimatechange

What is a COP and why is it relevant to Sacramento?

What is a COP?

COP stands for Conference of the Parties, where the world’s leaders gather every few years to talk about climate change. This year’s COP26 will be held in Glasgow, Scotland from November 1–12. Prior COPs have accomplished little to nothing, and we are now out of time.

The lack of action at previous COPs impacts us directly. President Biden must set an example by calling for climate action at the scale necessary to slow the climate crisis. It is imperative that he lead at COP26 if we expect other countries to step up. Unfortunately, Congress has thus far been unable to deliver meaningful climate legislation for President Biden to bring to the COP. Time is running out, with only two weeks to go.

At the state level, Sacramento is the capital of California, 5th largest economy in the world, and has influence at national and international levels. The Governor of California participates in COPs. The Climate Center recommends Governor Newsom demonstrate true leadership by announcing the following policies prior to the COP:

  1. Build a 21st century electricity grid that is clean, distributed, safe, reliable, equitable, and resilient, prioritizing frontline communities, to achieve a 100% carbon-free electricity by 2030.
  2. Secure a zero-emission transportation future, catalyzing the state’s homegrown zero-emission vehicle industry and improving health across the state.
  3. Accelerate the transition of California’s new and existing buildings to smart, clean, and all-electric technologies.
  4. Protect and enhance California’s vital agricultural industry by rapidly implementing climate-friendly strategies at scale to cut emissions and dramatically increase natural carbon removal with its many co-benefits for water, biodiversity, and food security, while increasing protection and climate-smart restoration of natural ecosystems.
  5. Lock in a healthy, clean energy future by halting permitting of all new oil and gas infrastructure and investing at scale in an equitable transition to a clean energy economy.

We in Sacramento must demand our governor and president commit to courageous and ground-breaking climate solutions.

Why should I care?

Due to the inexcusable climate negligence of past U.S. presidents and world leaders, we have reached a point where this COP is being called our "last hope" to slow the climate crisis. According to the latest IPCC report (and our own eyes) climate change is here now, and we MUST cut emissions as quickly as possible! The IPCC suggests reductions of about 50% of climate emissions by 2030 and 100% by 2050, however, these numbers are probably wildly optimistic as scientists continue to be shocked by the intensity and speed of climate change. We need to push for huge emission cuts—100% by 2030 if at all possible.

How can I get involved?

We hope you will join us in taking action during the Countdown to COP to pressure our leaders to tackle the climate crisis fearlessly:

  • Plan to attend and support as many events as you can; there is power in numbers.
  • The next weeks are criticalwhat can you do?
  • Use this linktree to take action on your own.
  • Contact at least one of your elected officials (city, county, state, federal) every day and demand they do everything in their power to address climate change.
  • October 22 is International Climate Strike Day. There will be events across the US and world. In Sacramento, the March for Stolen Lives and Stolen Futures will start at the CalSTRS Building, 100 Waterfront Pl in West Sacramento at 11 am, and go to the Capitol.
  • Organize a climate event with your friends, organization, school, or business, and post it on this calendar.
  • Check this calendar regularly for new events.

What are the goals of COP26?

activist holding bullhorn with fist raised in front of activist crowd

Photo credit: 11©Friday for Future DAY 13 by UNclimatechange

NOTE: The goals stated below are pathetically weak and lack a commitment to climate justice and equity. Given the dire climate situation, COP26 must accomplish MUCH MUCH more. Read this prestigious report for context. —ed.

According to the UN Climate Change Conference UK 2021 website, goals include:

1. Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach

Countries are being asked to come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century. To deliver on these stretch targets, countries will need to:

  • accelerate the phase-out of coal
  • curtail deforestation
  • speed up the switch to electric vehicles
  • encourage investment in renewables.

2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats

The climate is already changing and it will continue to change even as we reduce emissions, with devastating effects. At COP26 we need to work together to enable and encourage countries affected by climate change to:

  • protect and restore ecosystems
  • build defences, warning systems and resilient infrastructure and agriculture to avoid loss of homes, livelihoods and even lives

3. Mobilise finance

To deliver on our first two goals, developed countries must make good on their promise to mobilise at least $100bn in climate finance per year by 2020. International financial institutions must play their part and we need work towards unleashing the trillions in private and public sector finance required to secure global net zero.

4. Work together to deliver

We can only rise to the challenges of the climate crisis by working together. At COP26 we must:

  • finalise the Paris Rulebook (the detailed rules that make the Paris Agreement operational)
  • accelerate action to tackle the climate crisis through collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society.