The key COP26 themes & goals

The long awaited COP26 kicked off this week, with global leaders around the world coming together in Glasgow to discuss the environmental goals of the UN and what action is going to be taken.

COP26 is the 2021 United Nations climate change convention and will run until 12 November.  Let’s take a look at what the convention entails and the key themes discussed at COP26.

Our COP26 News & Blogs

What is COP26?

There are 200 countries that are part of the convention. The aim of COP26 is for every nation to reach agreement on how to tackle climate change. More than 190 world leaders will attend, plus thousands of negotiators, government representatives, businesses and citizens.

At the 2015 COP in Paris, 195 countries pledged to work together to limit global warming to below two degrees (aiming for 1.5 degrees), to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate and to make money available to deliver on these aims. This formed the Paris Agreement.

In addition to cutting greenhouse gas emissions, it was agreed that the wealthier nations should provide finance and technology to help poor and vulnerable countries to take action.

Countries committed to bring forward national plans setting out how much they would reduce their emissions – known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or ‘NDCs’.  They agreed that every five years they would come back with an updated plan that would reflect their highest possible ambition at that time. 

That brings us to the 2021 summit (delayed by one year because of Covid) for countries to update their plans for reducing emissions.  This is now urgent as the commitments made in the Paris Agreement, have come close to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, and the window for achieving this is closing.

What does COP26 stand for?

COP stands for Conference of the Parties and this will be its 26th summit (hence the name COP26). This year it is being hosted by the UK and Italy on 1-12 November 2021. The main aim for the UK is to get to net zero emissions by 2050.

The main aims of COP26 are to:

  • Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach
  • Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats
  • Mobilise finance
  • Work together to deliver

World leaders are coming together to discuss how to tackle climate change and improve the current environmental crisis.

Who will be attending COP26?

World figures who will be attending COP26 include Boris Johnson, Joe Biden, Nicola Sturgeon, Prince Charles, David Attenborough and more.

Not in attendance are key global leaders Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Xi Jinping of China – head of state of the world’s worst emitter of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

COP26 themes

Policies are required urgentlyto make homes cosier and heated with clean heat pumps, ensure new houses are energy-efficient and can cope with heatwaves, drive the shift to electric vehicles, and encourage people to eat less meat”- The Evening Standard

This means it’s more important than ever to work towards efficient and insulant homes, carbon neutral transportation, and zero emission, sustainable buildings.

The UK is seeking to bring governments, business, civil society and young people together to accelerate progress on the following shared challenges of climate change. There are five different presidency themes – adaptation and resilience, nature based solutions, energy transitions, clean transport and finance.

Adaptation and resilience

Delivering the practical solutions needed to adapt to climate impacts and address loss and damage to the natural world

Nature-based solutions

Ensuring the importance of nature and sustainable land use are part of global action on climate change and a clean, green recovery.

Energy transitions

Accelerating the global transition to clean energy.

Clean transport

Driving the global transition to zero emission transport.


Mobilising public and private finance flows at scale for mitigation and adaptation.

The full itinerary of the event is here, with some sessions being streamed on Youtube.

How we’re working towards a greener environment

We’ve previously shared our thoughts on the following pieces relating to climate change:


Here at Shakespeare Martineau, we’re committed to a greener environment through our actions. Legal and professional services group Ampa, which includes Shakespeare Martineau, Lime Solicitors, Marrons Planning, Corclaim and CSS Assure, has a pending B-corp status – meaning that the group intends to be carbon negative by 2030, with all registered office hubs using 100% renewable energy as well as increasing the use of sustainably sourced or recycled office supplies and furniture.

Our CEO Sarah Walker-Smith has also shared that she is committing to specific environmental goals. Hers are:

  1. Set yourself a carbon budget and stick to it
  2. Make marginal changes to create collective gains that count
  3. Wage a war on waste

We look forward to seeing what comes from COP26 – stay tuned for more content from us and the Energy team.


Energy & Water Law

We’re exceptionally proud of the deep-rooted energy and water specialisms we have here at Shakespeare Martineau. As one of our priority areas for investment and growth, much of our time and resource is focused upon these related (and converging) sectors, ensuring we are at the forefront of industry developments and are best placed to make a positive difference to our clients.

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