COP26

COP26 2021

Oct 27, 2021

Check out our guide to next week's UN Climate Change Conference—and see what the outcomes could mean for future warming at 240+ stations across the U.S.

KEY CONCEPTS

  • The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26, will take place from October 31 to November 12th in Glasgow, Scotland. 
  • During COP26, world leaders are expected to review and increase their national-level plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming to 1.5-2°C (2.7-3.6°F).
  • The outcomes of COP26 are locally relevant, as demonstrated in Climate Central’s new temperature projections for 246 locations across the U.S. 
  • Projected warming across the U.S. could range from 1-5°C (1.8-9°F relative to 1991-2020) by 2100, depending on how quickly emissions are cut. The strongest warming is projected in the Midwest region and some upper parts of New England.

Interviews for COP26

Climate Central will be at COP26 and available for interviews. Please contact pgirard@climatecentral.org to set up an interview. Dates and times are listed below:

  • Thursday, Oct 28 at 1 pm ET (from the U.S. before we leave)
  • Thursday, Nov 4 at 1 pm ET
  • Thursday, Nov 11 at 1 pm ET

 

COP26 REPORTING RESOURCES


The highly anticipated 26th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26, begins in just a few days. The conference will be held in Glasgow, Scotland from October 31 to November 12. We put together a short guide on the who, what, and why of COP26 to help make sense of this historic event: 

What is COP26?
COP26 is the 26th annual Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change—an international event where world leaders come together to advance climate goals, including those agreed upon in 2015 at COP21. During COP21, nations of the world adopted the Paris Agreement to hold global average temperatures to well below 2°C (3.6°F) above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F). To keep these long-term and global goals on track, the Paris Agreement requires all Parties to propose their own plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions—and to increase their ambition every 5 years (COP26 was postponed from 2020 to 2021 because of the pandemic). COP26 will review these initial commitments, called Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), and will also see Parties update their NDCs, setting the tone for future action. 

Who participates at COP26? World leaders and senior government officials from nearly 200 countries will be the main participants in negotiating and making decisions during the conference. Members of the press and media, businesses, academia, and nonprofit organizations (including Climate Central) will also be in attendance.

Why is COP26 important to you? 
Climate change is already affecting our lives and livelihoods. Its impacts on human health, agriculture, extreme weather, coastal inundations and more are disrupting communities across the globe—including your own community. COP26 is important because the choices made by world leaders over the next two weeks will influence warming in your own backyard, during the lifetimes of people already living as well as future generations.

To bring the global view down to the local level, Climate Central produced temperature projections to the year 2100 for 246 locations across the U.S. Our local projections used the latest generation of climate models and different greenhouse gas emission scenarios to compare two futures: a world where emissions continue on their current path (SSP3-7.0), and a world with aggressive emissions cuts (SSP1-2.6) that stay within the Paris Agreement limits of 2°C of global warming this century (see Methodology for details). The results show:

  • All 246 U.S. locations warmed under both greenhouse gas scenarios by 2100. 
  • In the scenario where emissions are aggressively cut (SSP1-2.6), projected warming in the U. S.  would range from 1°C to 2.5°C (1.8 to 4.5°F relative to 1991-2020) by 2050 and then stabilize. 
  • In the scenario where emissions remain very high (SSP3-7.0), projected warming would range from 3°C to 5°C (5.4 to 9°F) by 2100.
  • Projections show the strongest warming in the Midwest region and some upper parts of New England. 

So what’s at stake with future warming? Explore the impacts of rising carbon dioxide levels, rising temperatures, and rising seas in your local area with the following tools:

Additional warming by 2050 is nearly inevitable, but we have a choice in determining how much warming we will see in the future. Today, the global average temperature sits at 1.26°C (2.27°F) higher than in 1850. And current stated policies put us on a path toward 2.6°C (4.7°F) of warming by 2100—overshooting the Paris Agreement goal of 2°C. This is why COP26 is so important. In order to reach our global goal, each country needs to continually adopt—and implement—more-ambitious emission-reduction plans. 

But that is easier said than done. The Paris Agreement demands one of the largest global transformations, physically and behaviorally, the world has ever undertaken. And according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Sixth Assessment Report, meeting the 1.5°C target is not impossible but is becoming increasingly difficult as time passes with limited action. Any additional warming worsens the risks that climate change poses to people and the natural world. 

POTENTIAL LOCAL STORY ANGLES

How do I cover COP26 for my community?
Below is a list of resources for media coverage on COP26:

What are the most important climate impacts in my area?
The newly released report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has a section dedicated to North America in Chapter 12 that assesses the continent’s changing climate. For more in-depth analysis on regions within the U.S., check out the Fourth U.S. National Climate Assessment (NCA) from 2018. In the report, you can find a breakdown of the most relevant climate impacts in 10 distinct US regions and the impacts on different sectors like agriculture, oceans, and human health.

LOCAL EXPERTS 

The SciLine service, 500 Women Scientists or the press offices of local universities may be able to connect you with local scientists who have expertise on climate change. The American Association of State Climatologists is a professional scientific organization composed of all 50 state climatologists

NATIONAL EXPERTS 

  • Claudia Tebaldi, Ph.D., Earth Scientist, JGCRI/PNNL
    Science Advisor, Climate Central
    Lead Author, Chapter 12, IPCC AR6 Working Group I Report
    Contact: ctebaldi@climatecentral.org 
  • Dave Reidmiller, Ph.D. Director, Climate Center, Gulf of Maine Research Institute
    Lead U.S. Science and Technology Negotiator for the Paris Agreement
    Led U.S. Engagement in the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report cycle
    Director of the Fourth National Climate Assessment
    Contact: dreidmiller@gmri.org
  • Yamide Dagnet, MEng, Director of Climate Negotiations
    Climate Programs, World Resources Institute
    Contact: yamide.dagnet@wri.org
  • Maria Laura Rojas Vallejo, MSc in Environment and Development
    Allied for Climate Transformation By 2025, Transforma
    Contact: marialaura.rojas@transforma.global 
    *Available for Spanish interviews 
  • Karen Florini, J.D., Vice President for Programs, Climate Central
    Former Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change, U.S. State Department
    Contact: kflorini@climatecentral.org

METHODOLOGY

We downloaded data from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 6 (CMIP6) repository and created time series for each of the stations for which we routinely prepare Climate Matters analyses. For each station, the data consist of monthly temperatures estimated by 35 models under SSP1-2.6 (low CO2) and SSP3-7.0 (high CO2) scenarios. The data were averaged for each year and then the time series were smoothed to emphasize the change in the average conditions, rather than year-to-year variability. For each station, we next combined the models to estimate the median temperature and confidence intervals for the two scenarios. Thus, if a graphic shows a temperature of 65°F in 2050 for a particular scenario, that means that if CO2 emissions play out as depicted in the scenario, then the temperature in the years around 2050 should average out to 65°F. Any particular year could be above or below this value.  For a more detailed methodology, see here.

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