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COP26 - Climate change conference

Planet Earth, as seen in our Environmental Awareness Training

What is COP26?

COP26 is the 26th annual climate change conference, which this year is being held in Glasgow and runs until the 12th November. It allows leaders from around the world to unite and tackle the issue of climate change, which has become a global priority. This year, the Conference of Parties (COP) provides a platform for countries to outline their best plans for reducing global emissions, as a result of a decision which was made in Paris for COP21 in 2015 for 5 yearly reviews. The Paris Agreement was a significant step in fighting climate change, as every country agreed to together drive global warming levels to well below 2 degrees through taking action and allocating finances to the cause. While the global pandemic may have delayed COP26 by a full year, environmental awareness remains high on the agenda and all businesses and individuals will need to play an active role in protecting the planet. 

According to scientists, the rise in global temperature is responsible for climate impacts such as floods and heatwaves. A further rise could cause the loss of ecosystems and extinction of some species. The world needs to collectively cut their emissions from burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas, to emit fewer greenhouse gases which warm up the planet. To achieve a more sustainable future it is necessary for drastic measures by all nations to cut the use of these fuels (particularly those responsible for emitting the largest amount of greenhouse gases).  

Already over half way through the conference there have already been some important developments, and many environmental champions believe that action must be taken now to reduce emissions to prevent the continuing rise of global temperatures. So far:

  • More than 100 world leaders agreed to tackle deforestation
  • More than 100 countries joined a scheme to cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030
  • More than 40 countries have agreed to move away from the use of coal 

However, no country is required to cut emissions faster than they want to but it is thought that the collective gathering of world leaders helps to increase momentum for change and governments are setting their own targets to help make a difference.

How will it impact UK businesses?

In 2023 UK businesses with shares listed on the London Stock Exchange and financial institutions will need to publicise plans for how they plan to move to a low-carbon future, in line with the UK’s 2050 net-zero target.

But it’s important that all businesses make a pledge to become greener and more sustainable, with SME’s representing over 99% of all businesses in the UK in 2020.

Net zero means that a business or country will balance the amount of carbon it is emitting versus the amount of carbon it is removing from the atmosphere. To do this, businesses will need to make changes and commitments to achieve net zero - it will not happen overnight. Companies can look at how they run their business. For example, can they introduce more greener ways of working such as alternative energy sources or use greener products?

The pledges surrounding climate change that will come out of this year's conference are hoped to be bold and encourage businesses to acknowledge and address their own environmental impact.

Environmental awareness

Online training is a great way to introduce your employees to the topic of environmental awareness, and show them simple ways to help reduce their impact on the environment, as part of a business and an individual. Our IOSH approved course can be completed in 45 minutes and help your business show its commitment to the environment. 

Whether you are just getting to grips with the topic or are looking for ways to reduce your business’s impact on the environment the following blogs and resources can also help you find out more.

Blogs:

What is ISO14001 and why should my business get certified?

How to make your workplace more environmentally friendly

Environmental awareness - a priority at work

Resources:

Checklist: Environmental system management

Vlog: Workplace carbon emissions

Online environmental awareness course
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