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UN Climate Change Conference COP 26
October 31-November 12, 2021

The 26th Conference of the Parties to the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was drafted in 1992 in an effort to combat global warming. Since 1995 representatives of the world’s governments and other interested groups have been meeting annually in November to assess progress in dealing with climate change. This group, known as the Conference of Parties is responsible for adopting resolutions that establish the international rules needed to meet the challenges posed by our changing climate.

In 2015, unprecedented agreement was reached in Paris among close to 200 countries vowing climate action that collectively would limit global warming to less than 2 degrees during this century. However, it is now clear that these commitments have not been enough and the window for achieving the target is closing. Countries have made some progress in recent months towards the 2 degree goal but the science shows more must be done.

To that end, the UK will host this year’s conference in Glasgow, Scotland and organizers are focusing on achieving four key objectives: securing global net zero by mid-century, protecting communities and natural habitats, mobilizing financing, and working together. COP 26 will once again capture world-wide media attention and in doing so provide teachers with an excellent context and timeframe for exploring climate change in the classroom.

Why Care About International Cooperation on Climate Change?

Climate change is altering our planet.  Significant environmental, economic and social consequences are becoming more and more severe as global temperatures increase. 

  • Climate change is causing a significant increase in the frequency, intensity, and impacts of some types of extreme weather events. (C2ES)
  • Current rates of sea level rise threaten coastal cities where most of the world’s population resides
  • Rising temperatures due to global warming threaten to increase flooding and droughts, putting millions of homes at risk and endangering as many as 30 percent of animal species, according to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  • Two-thirds of the world's polar bears could be lost within 50 years as a result of retreating sea ice, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
  • The IPCC estimates 3 billion or more people will be at risk of water shortage due to climate change in the decades ahead.
  • Research conducted by the NRDC shows that if present trends continue, the total cost of global warming over the next century will be measured in the trillions of dollars.
  • Emissions from the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity cause air pollution and are a key contributing factor to thousands of hospital stays and premature deaths in Canada each year.
  • Climate change presents the single biggest threat to sustainable development everywhere and its widespread, unprecedented impacts disproportionately burden the poorest and most vulnerable. (UNFCCC)

Climate change will increasingly affect human health, species distribution and the ability of the earth’s ecosystems to sustain our economic, social and environmental needs.  How we deal with climate change is a crucial discussion that teachers and students should be actively engaged in.

Resources 4 Rethinking encourages students and teachers to explore climate change issues.  Top R4R Picks will connect you to some excellent resources to support these efforts.

For a more extensive catalogue of climate change resources and ideas, click here and for more information on the conference itself, visit the COP26 website.