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Environmental Consultancy

COP26 Climate Change Summit: An Overview

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) will run in Glasgow’s Scottish Events Campus (SEC) from 31st October – 12th November 2021*.

What is COP?

The Conference of Parties (a party being one of 197 nations and territories) exists to monitor and review steps being taken to achieve targets set out in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The latest IPCC report stands as a stark reminder that, while the clock is ticking, we can still ‘avert a climate catastrophe’ if we act now, and act together. COP26 is the next major milestone in the global mission to tackle the many challenges we face…and a key the opportunity. As November’s event draws closer, our collective mindset should be that, while humans are undeniably responsible for the rapid changes we have seen, we can also be part of the solution.

What are the goals of COP26?

This year’s COP summit will examine the climate emergency through the lens of four key goals, each pivotal in agreeing a co-ordinated and consistent agenda to overcome challenges on a global scale.

  1. Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach by pushing for a step change in commitments to emissions reduction
  2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats by strengthening reaction to climate change impacts
  3. Mobilise finance by getting money where it needs to be for climate action
  4. Work together to deliver by enhancing international collaboration, including for the COP26 campaigns on energy transition, clean road transport and nature

What’s on the COP26 agenda?

The negotiations set to take place at COP26 will focus around three areas:

The Paris rulebook

Since 2015, negotiations have centred around how to codify the Paris Agreement. The main part still left to decide is Article 6, the financial mechanism for international cooperation to reduce emissions in a cost-efficient manner. Within this, issues that are particularly difficult are how to avoid double-counting, for how long emissions reductions can be used (vintage) and how climate projects can be done respecting other values (for instance tree planting on indigenous soil).

Enhanced action

Every five years, all the parties (countries and the EU) that have signed the Paris Agreement are to enhance/increase their climate pledges. We are currently in the first enhancement period, and most major economies have already committed to strengthening their targets, while others use the COP to present their revised targets.

Green finance

International funding for climate actions from the developed world to developing countries was to reach USD 100 billion per year from 2020. By most accounts, the actual sum is somewhere between 40 and 80 billion USD, and the way forward is far from clear. Linked to this is how the Green Climate Fund and the Adaptation Fund are to be run and funded in the future. “Show me the money” will, as often before, be key to reach an agreement. 

What does COP26 mean for the construction industry?

Climate negotiations may, on the surface, seem too technical and complex to be of direct business relevance – but most companies will agree that the Paris Agreement is highly relevant, and so the clarifications that come out of the COP26 will be important. This is also true for the enhanced action climate plans; what’s in there spells business opportunities for sectors such as energy, transport, agriculture, forestry and industry.

How can Sweco support climate collaboration?

As Europe’s leading engineering and architecture consultancy, we use our size and extensive knowledge to promote sustainable urban development. We believe we have a great responsibility to influence the transition to net zero through our client projects and in our own operations.

At Sweco, we aim to be a role model in sustainability, taking responsibility for and being part of the solution to society’s sustainability and carbon reduction challenges. Our commitment is to do more to support and challenge our clients in delivering innovative solutions through expert consultancy and high-quality design.

Max Joy President of Sweco UK

As signatories to the Pledge to Net Zero we recognise that we must lead by example by setting ourselves ambitious internal targets – it’s through our client projects that we have the greatest scope to reduce impact on the climate.

By combining local knowledge with international expertise, we ensure our clients develop solutions that ensure cities and communities can become sustainable living spaces of the future where people can live, work and thrive. So, while COP26 will shine a light on critical issues, debates and plans, sustainability and climate action is ‘evergreen’ at Sweco. Below you can delve into a range of resources, commentary and thought articles across that are both relevant to the four goals of COP26, and environmental issues in general.

Contact us via
COP26@sweco.co.uk to share your thoughts on all things sustainability, or arrange a discussion with our sustainability experts.


*Cop26 was originally planned for November ’20 but postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.


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