What is happening during COP26 and why does intergenerational solidarity matter?


The COP26 (or Conference of the Parties) event is a global United Nations summit about climate change and how countries are planning to tackle it. It normally takes place every year. The conference brings together world leaders and activists to tackle climate change and set targets. It is being hosted by the UK and 2021 is the first time it will take place in Glasgow.

The Paris agreement

To tackle climate change and its negative impacts, world leaders at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris reached a breakthrough on 12 December 2015: the historic Paris Agreement. The Agreement set long-term goals to guide all nations:
• substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase in this century to 2 degrees Celsius while pursuing efforts to limit the increase even further to 1.5 degrees;
• review countries’ commitments every five years;
• provide financing to developing countries to mitigate climate change, strengthen resilience and enhance abilities to adapt to climate impacts.

The Agreement is a legally binding international treaty. Today 191 countries plus the European Union have joined the Paris Agreement. The Agreement includes commitments from all countries to reduce their emissions and work together to adapt to the impacts of climate change and calls on countries to strengthen their commitments over time. The Paris Agreement provided a durable framework guiding the global effort for decades to come and it marked the beginning of a shift towards a net-zero emissions world.

How does this relate to intergenerational solidarity?

When we are fighting for climate change we can get achieve a lot more if we work with different generations to make a difference. Whether this is calling on the government to make a difference, mending or reusing together, or working on climate projects as a whole community. Climate change also affects us all so if we fail to include all generations we are at a significant disadvantage. To highlight this Generations Working Together is holding an intergenerational climate solidarity event and will also announce an intergenerational climate solidarity award.

Glasgow Conference

The UK will host COP26 jointly with Italy with the main session happening in Glasgow between 31st of October to 15th of November 2021. The Glasgow conference has been described as the last chance to stop climate change and the most important conference to have happened in Glasgow. For an explanation on why the conference is taking place please see the introduction document here.

What will happen during COP26?

About 25,000 people are expected in Glasgow with many thousand more joining virtually. The events will include world leaders, business leaders, journalists, activists, the wider community, and young people. They will work together to achieve key goals.

During the two weeks, there will normally be environmental announcements as a result of the talks between world leaders. Some of the announcements are likely to discuss the Paris agreement and discussions could include:

• Making a faster switch to electric cars
• Speeding up the phasing out of coal power
• Cutting down fewer trees
• Protecting more people from the impacts of climate change, such as funding coastal-defense systems.
At the end of the conference, it is possible that a declaration will be created. If this happens then every country will be required to sign up and it could include specific commitments. Some significant people will include Joe Biden, Greta Thunberg, and Boris Johnson.

As well as the official COP26 negotiations there will also be community events, virtual events, discussions, protests, and marches all to highlight the importance of taking climate action. You can see the official programme here.

How can I get involved?

There are many things happening both in Glasgow and virtually during COP26. At Generations Working Together we will be holding a virtual event on fighting for the planet through intergenerational solidarity. You can sign up for this on our website. The event will take place on Friday the 5th of November at 10am.

You can also join the Zero Waste campaign for COP26 under the theme we need to talk about consumption.

Interfaith Scotland will be running a vigil on George Square on Sunday the 31st and you can join either in person or online.

To learn more about climate change you can join Climate Fresk in person or online.

See the events calendar for the wider society on the climate fringe website.

The New York Times has set up a climate hub in Glasgow and you can join face to face or virtually for talks with climate scientists, activists, and more. Please visit their website to learn more.

If you are based in a school you can use the resources toolkit from the together for our planet campaign and the hashtag #togetherforourplanet to join others.

You can also make your voice heard and follow the events by using the hashtag #COP26. Remember there might be more things happening in your local community so search for COP26 events in your local area or online.

If you have any questions or would like to support GWT please contact Kate Samuels, Communications and Policy Officer.